UK carers struggling to make ends meet
Around half of the 6.4 million unpaid carers in the UK are suffering ill-health because of money worries according to Carers UK.
A survey of 4250 unpaid carers found that 40 per cent of respondents had fallen into debt because of their caring responsibilities, and 86 per cent of carers in debt suffered mental health problems.
The survey, which was carried out as part of Carers Rights Day, found that many carers leave their jobs in order to care for relatives.
Although they lose vital earnings by doing so, Carers Allowance, at just £55.55 a week, is the lowest payment in the benefits system.
Emily Holzhausen, Carers UK’s director of policy, said: “There are an estimated 6.4 million people in the UK providing unpaid care and they are saving the economy £119 billion every year”.
As well as loss of earnings, carers also struggle to meet the costs of caring, which may include medicines, transport and specialist equipment.
Even though many carers are forced to cut back on food and heating, this often isn’t enough, forcing them to fall into debt.
Although the government has promised £400 million between 2011 and 2015 to help carers, recent figures from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care show that spending on carers by the NHS has fallen by £2.4 million.
The Department of Health has ordered Primary Care Trusts to publish their support plans for carers by September next year.
On a more positive note, disability campaigners today celebrated the government’s withdrawal of a plan to scrap the mobility component of disability living allowance for 80,000 people in care homes.
The move, which was proposed as part of the government’s spending review, would have saved £160 million.
Although the government believed the funding duplicated money for transport provided direct to the care home, it has now admitted that this isn’t the case.
Following a review, the Department for Work and Pensions said: “There was insufficient evidence of overlaps in funding provision to justify the withdrawal of the mobility component.”