Only one in eight unpaid carers say they have enough support from social care system – survey

Only one in eight unpaid carers say they are getting enough support from the social care system, with many exhausted, lonely and worried about their finances, research has suggested.

Two-thirds (66%) of unpaid carers have shouldered increased responsibilities during the last six months as the coronavirus outbreak hit, according to a survey by the Carers Trust.

Just 12% of the 2,078 unpaid carers polled by the charity said they are receiving enough support.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of unpaid carers said they were not getting enough support and 24% said they were not sure.

The Government provides a weekly carer’s allowance of £67.25 in England.

However, the Carers Trust said this is “pushing many exhausted carers into real financial hardship”.

More than half of carers have given up, or reduced, paid work to fulfil their caring responsibilities, it said.

Responses to its survey paint an unacceptable and “highly concerning picture of loneliness, stress, financial concerns and poverty, impossible choices, and constant juggling”, the charity said.

The majority – 64% – of respondents said they were spending more than 50 hours a week caring for a relative.

In 2011, the census found that 23% of unpaid carers were caring in excess of 50 hours a week, suggesting the proportion has almost tripled within a decade.

Caring responsibilities have “dramatically increased” during the pandemic, with about one in six (16%) reporting they are caring an additional 40 hours or more per week due to lockdowns and the closure of local services.

Many people will have become unpaid carers to people who are living with “Long Covid”, the report said, while people with mental health problems who receive care may have deteriorated during the pandemic.

One respondent said: “I’m exhausted. Really exhausted. I don’t think I can face six more months like the last six months.

“I really feel like … carers (have) been abandoned.”

Another carer, asked what they are worried or concerned about during the next six months, said: “Everything. Death, being able to cope, the crushing loneliness and poverty.”

The majority of carers surveyed said they most needed a break from their role, some time for themselves, more financial support, better health, social care and education services for the person they care and support for their own mental health.

Carers Trust chief executive Gareth Howells (pictured) said: “This survey lays bare the human cost of a lack of investment in our social care system and the ever-increasing burden being placed on unpaid carers.

“As I read down the responses to questions about how well they are supported, unpaid carers recounted the despair and hurt they feel at having to weigh up a choice that no-one in Britain should have to face – between continuing to provide dedicated care for a sick or disabled relative and the inevitable financial hardship this brings in far too many cases.

“Successive governments’ refusal to find a solution to the social care funding issue now means unpaid carers are at breaking point.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We recognise the vital role played by unpaid carers, especially during this difficult period, and we continue to work closely with carer organisations to support them.

“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.”

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