More than two thirds of carers are using their own income or savings to buy equipment and products for the person they care for, forcing them into financial struggles.
That’s according to new research into people who are caring unpaid for family and friends and claims to show unpaid carers are “bankrupting their future to pay for the present”.
A Carers UK survey of over 7,500 people currently caring unpaid for family or friends, the majority of whom provide well over 50 hours of care every week, revealed the personal and financial cost of caring, with 40% of carers saying they are struggling to make ends meet.
Those struggling to make ends meet are the hardest hit as carers with little money to spare are forking out hundreds of pounds to cover the costs of essentials like nutritional supplements, bed pads and mobility equipment.
80% of carers who report they struggle financially are paying towards the cost of care services or equipment for the person they support.
73% of those on a low income or receiving Carer’s Allowance – the benefit for people caring for more than 35 hours a week and just £66.15 per week – are unable to save for retirement, according to the survey.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “This is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, with carers already providing high levels of support left short-changed as they use money for their retirement trying to cover the care costs of their loved one today.
“As it stands, providing unpaid care is pushing thousands of families into poverty and is having a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life.
“Our current social care system is on the brink. Families urgently need affordable, high quality care services and carers need access to regular breaks and stronger workplace rights to ensure they can combine work and care if they wish to.
“The leadership candidates cannot afford to ignore this burning issue affecting millions across the country and must commit to funding and delivering a reformed system that has families at its heart.”
Carers UK is urging the government to put in place financial and practical support for carers, both in the short term and over the longer term, to ensure the sustainability of the health and social care system.