Tory cuts mean 12% of pop­u­la­tion now have to look af­ter loved ones

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY MARTIN BAGOT Health & Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

ONE in eight of us now act as un­paid car­ers af­ter the Tories slashed so­cial care spend­ing and trans­ferred the bur­den on to strug­gling fam­i­lies.

Nearly eight mil­lion peo­ple look af­ter poorly rel­a­tives or friends, a re­port has found – up by over a third since 2001.

Many have quit their jobs to do so, leav­ing them strug­gling with poverty, low qual­ity of life and poor men­tal health as they save the NHS £139bil­lion a year.

Yet more than half stay in paid work, and many of these are not el­i­gi­ble for the £65-a-week Carer’s Al­lowance.

Our na­tional army of un­paid car­ers in­cludes thou­sands of chil­dren look­ing af­ter par­ents and grand­par­ents.

Shadow So­cial Care Min­is­ter Bar­bara Kee­ley said: “The Tories’ re­lent­less aus­ter­ity has heaped pres­sure on friends and fam­i­lies, of­ten at great cost to their ca­reers, so­cial lives and their health.”

The Mir­ror launched our Fair Care for All cam­paign af­ter the Tories cut so­cial care fund­ing by 27% since 2010, leav­ing 400,000 fewer peo­ple get­ting state help.

Ben Glover, of in­de­pen­dent think-tank Demos, which com­piled the re­port, said: “Un­paid car­ers have for decades been taken for granted by pol­icy mak­ers.”

He­len Walker, of Car­ers UK, said: “The amount of care pro­vided by fam­i­lies is on the rise yet the amount of ser­vices from lo­cal coun­cils is fall­ing.” The char­ity wants car­ers given the right to paid care leave, and more fund­ing for car­ers’ breaks.

There were 5.8 mil­lion car­ers in 2001, ris­ing to 6.5 mil­lion by 2011 then soar­ing to 8 mil­lion by 2018 – up 35% on 2001, the re­port said. The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates coun­cils face a fund­ing black hole of al­most £8bil­lion by 2025.

Demos is call­ing for the Carer’s Al­lowance to be raised at least to the same level as Job­seeker’s Al­lowance, and for two mil­lion more to be­come el­i­gi­ble. It would cost £10.2bil­lion funded by a 1% Na­tional In­sur­ance rise. A Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said: “Since 2010 we’ve in­creased Carer’s Al­lowance. Car­ers may also be el­i­gi­ble for higher rates of other ben­e­fits.”

Jac­qui cares for son Joshua, 26

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