UK ARMY OF CARERS SOARS T0 8 MILLION
Tory cuts mean 12% of population now have to look after loved ones
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