Unpaid carers aren’t valued by society, according to a new poll, published today to mark the start of Carers Week 2017.
More than seven in 10 (74%) of the UK public feel carers are not sufficiently valued by society for the support they provide and this figure rises to just over eight in ten (83%) of those who have previous experience of caring themselves.The unpaid care provided by the UK’s carers has been estimated to be worth £132 billion a year.
More than seven million people in the UK are currently providing care for an older, disabled or seriously ill family member or friend.
The numbers of unpaid carers is rising faster than the general population and each day, 6000 people take on a caring role, but the poll shows that many people are unaware that they are are likely to take on a caring role, and would be unprepared if they did become a carer. One in five people aged 50-64 are carers yet half of those who are not currently carers (50%) thought it unlikely they would ever become a carer.
When asked their top concerns, affordability of care and the impact on their finances is the top worry (46%) for people who have never had a caring experience if they were faced with taking on a caring role. Coping with the stress of caring (43%) is the second biggest worry.
Nearly a third who have never cared for someone (32%) said they would worry they didn’t have the skills or experience to become a carer and more than a quarter (26%) said they would worry about the impact of caring on their physical health.
Carers have worse health than the general public too. Carers providing 50 hours or more a week of care are more than twice as likely to be in bad health as non-carers. Worryingly, almost a quarter of those polled who have never cared (23%) would not know or understand what help would be available if they became a carer.
The online YouGov poll was conducted on behalf of eight major charities, including Carers Trust, who are calling on the new UK government and society during Carers Week to do more to recognise the important contribution that unpaid carers make and to support them in their caring role.
Giles Meyer, interim CEO of Carers Trust, said:
“Unpaid carers play a crucial role in society, saving the NHS and local councils billions of pounds each year, in order to care for a family member or friend who may otherwise go unsupported, and carers often do so at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.
"We can’t place enough value on carers. Urgent action is needed by the new government to ensure they are better supported in communities and workplaces, and given the recognition and support they need and deserve.”
Thousands of events and activities are taking place across the UK for Carers Week with hundreds of individuals and organisations pledging to play their part in building carer friendly communities.