Health & Lifestyle

One in three who care for a loved one will be forced to quit their job in the next year at a cost of £6 billion to taxpayers, report warns

  • A report carried out by Opinium found 65 per cent of family carers out of work 

Over a third of workers caring for a relative will be forced to quit their job or reduce their hours in the next year at a cost of £6 billion to taxpayers, a report has warned.

The ground-breaking survey found that as many as 41 per cent of working-age carers are thinking of leaving the workplace, or reducing their hours, to look after their relative.

An exodus of family carers from the workforce would cost the Treasury as much as £6.2 billion in lost taxes and extra benefits payments in 2024, the report said. 

Nearly 400,000 people left the workplace between 2021-22 to care for a relative, having been unable to balance the demands with work.

An exodus of family carers from the workforce would cost the Treasury as much as £6.2 billion in lost taxes and extra benefits payments in 2024 (Stock Image)

An exodus of family carers from the workforce would cost the Treasury as much as £6.2 billion in lost taxes and extra benefits payments in 2024 (Stock Image)

The report, titled 'Creating a Britain that Works and Cares', comes against a backdrop of a crisis in social care (Stock Image)

The report, titled ‘Creating a Britain that Works and Cares’, comes against a backdrop of a crisis in social care (Stock Image)

The report, by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), warned that government targets to reduce economic inactivity would stall without better support for family carers. It would also put further strain on an already overstretched social care system, it said.

Alongside the report, a survey carried out with Opinium found 65 per cent of family carers are out of work and almost 64 per cent of part-time workers would return to the workplace or increase their hours at work with the ‘right support in place’.

Their responses prompted the CSJ to make a series of recommendations to ease the burden on family carers.

The policies included delivering ten hours of free home care, £2,000 in free adaptations to make homes more accessible and an increase in the earnings threshold for the carer’s allowance, from £139 to £250 a week.

Nearly 400,000 people left the workplace between 2021-22 to care for a relative, having been unable to balance the demands with work (Stock Image)

Nearly 400,000 people left the workplace between 2021-22 to care for a relative, having been unable to balance the demands with work (Stock Image)

The report's recommendations were praised by leading charities (Stock Image)

The report’s recommendations were praised by leading charities (Stock Image)

Cristina Odone, head of the CSJ’s family policy unit, said: ‘No one should have to sacrifice their own welfare because they are looking after a member of their family. 

Yet by forcing family carers to choose between holding down a job and their caring responsibilities, this is precisely what our current social care system is doing.’ 

Family carers contribute an estimated £162 billion worth of unpaid care a year, far more than the £26.9 billion contributed by the taxpayer. 

The report, titled ‘Creating a Britain that Works and Cares’, comes against a backdrop of a crisis in social care.

Skills for Care, the body that gathers data on England’s social care workforce, reported there were 152,000 vacant positions in its October 2023 update.

There is uncertainty around the number of family carers – previous NHS surveys have found 320,000 adult carers are known to councils in England, while the 2021 Census indicated there were five million adult carers in total in England.

The report’s recommendations were praised by leading charities.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: ‘These findings are a wake-up call for policymakers to stop taking unpaid carers for granted and give them the support they need.’

A government spokesman said: ‘We’ve earmarked £327 million through our Better Care Fund this year to provide carers with advice and support, as well as short breaks and respite services.

‘Under the Carer’s Leave Act, eligible employees will be entitled to one week of unpaid leave per year. 

‘We are also making changes to Flexible Working legislation, which can provide people, including carers, with better access to flexible working arrangements.’


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