UK carers 'desperately worried about finances'
- 23 September 2010
- From the section Education & Family
The financial situation of more than a third of carers in the UK is so bad they do not want to wake up in the morning, research suggests.
A survey by Princess Royal Trust for Carers found 45% of those it questioned wanted to run away or felt depressed and that they could not cope.
Around 59% of the 800 carers surveyed said they had given up paid work to look after a sick or disabled relative.
More than half of those who still worked earned less than £10,000.
According to the report, Broke and Broken, 37% of carers asked said they were fearful of the future, 39% felt at risk of losing their home and 53% had borrowed money because of their caring role.
A further 15% said they were turning to alcohol or drugs to cope.
Taras, 51, told the researchers about caring for his disabled wife: "There have been occasions when my wife has found me crying.
"I often hide how I really feel from her because she has enough problems to deal with without me."
Robin, 71, said: "Caring is also expensive in terms of equipment - a car that can take a wheelchair, a converted bathroom, respite care expenses, a through-floor elevator - the list is endless and I have no income stream to help pay for it.
"It comes from savings that are not limitless. I have no future independent of being a carer."
Karen, 42, cares for her husband who has neurofibromatosis and chronic arthritis.
She said since her husband became ill, they fell into poverty, she was declared bankrupt and lost a well-paid job and the couple lost their home.
"The stress of caring and the financial worries we've had to endure led me to have a nervous breakdown a few years ago.
"I never thought we'd be a couple who depended on the state for help. We can just about cover the bills, but we still struggle to pay for food and cover our rent."
Carole Cochrane, chief executive at the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: "The new coalition government has an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of carers.
"As part of their welfare reform they must ensure greater financial support for carers, and the comprehensive spending review must deliver the improved community support for carers to combine work and care, as pledged already by the government in June.
"Six million carers will judge the government by the decisions they make in the next two months."
The Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions issued a joint statement about their plans to ensure carers get the support they need.
"We are going to 'refresh' the Carers Strategy and, before the end of this year, we will set out how the government plans to work in partnership with carers, local authorities, the NHS, employers, the voluntary sector and local communities to improve support for carers.
"The government knows urgent reform of the social care system is needed to ensure it is sustainable and fair. We're already pressing ahead with a commission on the funding of care and support which will report back, within a year."
Any overhaul of the benefits systems would also "carefully consider" the needs of carers, they said.