The number of unpaid carers in the UK, who shoulder the responsibility of looking after a frail, ill or disabled friend or relative, stands at 6.5 million, and is set to rocket in the next couple of decades, according to figures from Carers UK.
“We estimate that it will hit 9 million by 2037 as a result of our ageing population, and the fact that people are living longer with disabilities and long-term health conditions,” says Steve McIntosh, policy manager for Carers UK. “More and more of us will need help and advice to cope with the pressures caring puts on our careers and on family finances.”
The number of carers providing free support has already climbed by 600,000, or around 11%, in the past decade. This hidden army, which saves the nation a staggering £119bn each year, is the focus of Carers Week, starting on 10 June, which is a partnership of nine charities aimed at increasing awareness of the emotional, physical and financial impact of taking on this role.
Carers often find their income takes a hit if they have to give up work or reduce hours to look after a loved one, as well as tackling a range of other financial considerations. “These include arranging payment of household bills for the person they’re caring for, applying for financial support and benefits on their behalf, or managing their different bank accounts, pensions, savings or debts,” says McIntosh.