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Carers Trust’s 2023 Network Data Exchange results

Every year, Carers Trust surveys the local carer organisations that make up our UK-wide network of support for unpaid carers. Our latest survey covers the period from 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023.

The Network Data Exchange, previously known as the Impact Exchange, provides an overview of the current challenges, needs and opportunities of the local carer organisations currently within the Carers Trust network.

This gives a unique insight into the work of local carer organisations across the UK, enabling better understanding of what is needed to support the vital work these organisations do.

The findings from this year’s survey show we need:

  • Commissioners to reflect on these findings and use them in their local planning
  • Decision-makers to factor them into their funding decisions
  • Policy-makers to use these insights to ensure the long-term sustainability of local carer services for unpaid carers across the UK to meet growing and more complex demand


Cost-of-living crisis drives soaring demand for support services

This year’s survey of local carer organisations within the Carers Trust network lays bare how the ongoing cost-of-living crisis has posed severe challenges for unpaid carers, staff and organisations as a whole.

The survey shows how the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on unpaid carers, on the back of a global pandemic, has generated soaring demand for the services of local carer organisations.

Findings also show how that demand is stretching the capacity of local carer organisations like never before.

Key findings


The most identified challenge over the last year for those local carer organisations that  make up our network was the cost-of-living crisis for carers. 83% of respondents said this is a key challenge, regardless of their size or location.

Last year’s most common challenges were fundraising/sustainability (63%) and staff retention/recruitment (60%). These continue to be highly reported, as are “cost-of-living crisis for staff/organisation” (75%) and “demand for services outstripping capacity” (73%).

Reach and support

Over 1 million unpaid carers are now registered with a local carer organisation that is a member of the Carers Trust network (up 14% from last year). The Carers Trust network is now covering  85% of all UK local authority areas.

Collectively, Carers Trust and its network of local carer organisations supported 378,617 unpaid carers across the UK through a range of contact and engagement methods, as well as a range of services and programmes.

This represents an increase of 14% in the number of unpaid carers registered with our local carer organisation network members compared to last year, highlighting the growing demand from unpaid carers for local carer services.

One of the biggest opportunities identified by our network members was the potential to support more carers. This will be challenging, however, in an operating  environment with increasingly stretched resources and with an overall workforce that has decreased by 6%.

Many local carer organisations report that unpaid carers’ needs have become more complex and require more support, leading to more intense demand. This is why the biggest opportunity identified by our network of local carer organisations for the coming year is the need for more partnership working. Continued investment in the capacity of local carer organisations to meet growing demand and the complexity of unpaid carer needs is therefore required.

Findings from Carers Trust’s annual adult carer survey report, published on Thursday 21st September 2023, shed more light on specific reasons for this soaring demand for services as identified by our local carer organisations:

  • 41% of unpaid carers from across the UK said that their time spent caring has increased over the last 12 months.
  • 72% of unpaid carers said the person they are caring for needs more care.
  • 21% said they no longer receive support from their local authority or that the support is less than before.
  • 31% said they have taken over providing carer from another unpaid carer.
  • One quarter of unpaid carers say they are the sole carer for the person they care for.

Read our adult carer survey report, “Unpaid carers are not unsung heroes. We are forgotten, neglected and burnt out” to learn more.