Carers face growing financial hardship
One in three ‘sandwich carers’ looking after young and old struggle to cope, says Money Advice Service.
Almost a third of people who simultaneously care for both young and older family members say they struggle to cover basic living costs, according to research from the Money Advice Service to coincide with Carers Week.
One in 10 of the UK adult population are so-called “sandwich carers” – about 4.7 million adults – and that number is expected to rise as people live longer and costs of care rise, the advice service says.
Its research highlights the financial pressures on sandwich carers with a quarter reporting they have had to cut their working hours and a further 25% saying they have had to give up work altogether. It found around half of the carers (48%) earn less than £31,200 a year.
“This research highlights the real financial strain which sandwich carers are under, and how people with a dual-caring role face a multitude of pressures, which vary from family to family. Money is clearly only part of the picture, but it’s a major factor affecting carers’ lives and we know millions are struggling to cope,” said Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service.
More than a third of the carers (37%) say they have had to cut back on day-to-day spending; nearly a third (29%) have dipped into their savings; and 16% have turned to credit cards or their overdrafts to support themselves financially. Almost one in five (22%) are in debt and finding it difficult to cope financially, and 32% admit they are struggling to cover basic living costs.
The service, which was set up by the government to provide unbiased financial advice, says the pressure on sandwich carers is exacerbated by the fact most have not put any plans in place to help them manage the financial impact and costs involved.
Rookes said: “There is no single solution for all carers because every circumstance is different, but we have a host of free support, from everyday budgeting to funding your own long-term care. We want to reassure carers they’re not alone. We’re here to help.”
Helen Clarke, Carers Week manager, said adding financial problems to all the other strains on dual-carers creates a “pressure cooker effect”.
“We must come together as a society to do more to help people care. Not least because carers deserve our support, but also when you consider £119bn is saved by carers’ contribution to society every year, we can’t afford not to,” she said.