1.2 million unpaid carers living in poverty, says report

Most informal carers in the UK provide care for a family member

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More than a million carers are in poverty, a new report suggests.

Across the UK, 1.2 million people who provide unpaid care are poverty-stricken, according to the report from the New Policy Institute (NPI).

There are around 5.3 million informal carers around the UK, most of whom provide care for a family member.

The report from the NPI, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that the poverty rate is much higher among working-age adults providing more than 20 hours of care a week.

One in five informal carers of working-age are in poverty, but this rises to 37% for people providing 20 hours of care or more each week, according to the report, compiled from data from the Family Resources Survey.

"Without informal carers the NHS and adult social care services could not possibly function on the current level of resource," said Hannah Aldridge, head of analysis at the NPI.

"But providing this invaluable unpaid service too often means a life of poverty for the people who provide care. Carers deserve greater recognition and support."

Chris Goulden, head of policy and research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, added: "People who care for their loved ones should not face a financial penalty for doing so.

"It's vital that the government makes sure that there is support in place for carers and for those they care for. There is an important role for employers too: providing flexible jobs which can fit around caring responsibilities could help to reduce some of the barriers that carers face finding and keeping a job and progressing at work."

Helena Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, added: "This research highlights that the existing financial support for people with little or no capacity to work alongside caring is inadequate and, as a result, carers are too often ending up in financial hardship."

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