No Choice But To Care Carers UK Report Released

Today marks the start of Carers Week 2024 and the publication of Carers UK’s Carers Week report: No Choice But To Care.

The report shows that 10 million adults – 62% of current and former unpaid Carers – had no choice in taking on their caring role due to a lack of alternative care options, according to analysis of YouGov polling data.

This research revealed that the impact of caring has been more negative than positive for all areas unpaid Carers were asked about, particularly for their

  • physical health (53%)
  • mental health (63%)
  • employment (48%)
  • and finances and savings (47%).

The negative impacts as a result of caring were felt most strongly by those who had no choice but to take on an unpaid caring role as well as women and those aged 45-54.

Gender Differences
The report also found that women were more likely than men to say unpaid caring had a ‘very’ negative impact on mental health (27% compared with 19%) and on their job and ability to work (22% compared with 16%).

A higher proportion of women said unpaid caring had a ‘very’ or ‘slightly’ negative impact on their relationships compared with men (42% compared with 30%) and on their physical health compared to men (59% compared with 42%).

Age Differences
Those aged 45 to 54 were most likely to have no choice when taking on an unpaid caring role (70%) and were most likely to say that unpaid caring has had a ‘very’ or ‘slightly’ negative impact on their finances and savings (56%), job and ability to work (64%) and pensions (30%), compared to other age groups.**

Dorothy Cook is an unpaid Carer from Bristol. She stopped working over a decade ago to care for her husband Melvin, who has a rare brain disease. Dorothy said:

“If I had been asked 15 years ago where I saw my life in 2024, I would never have dreamed it would be as a full-time carer. I had started my own business and it was thriving. I worked long hours and it wasn’t always easy. But I will honestly say that being a full-time unpaid carer has been the toughest and most challenging role of all.

“I was forced into giving up my dream life, job, friends, relationships and my physical and mental health suffered. I am financially poorer. I do it because of my love for someone who has found themselves dependent on me. I also have little choice about caring because the system is unable to provide the care my husband needs. It leaves me without enough breaks and the essential support I also need for my own health. I’m often caring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which is exhausting.”

Read the full report.

National Carers Strategy is needed in England and Wales
The report recommends the establishment of a National Carers Strategy, review and reform of social security benefits for Carers and better workplace protections and workplace support for unpaid carers. To ensure Carers’ health and wellbeing is better supported, the report recommends a new duty on the NHS to have regard to unpaid Carers as well as further investment in social care and Carers’ breaks. The report also makes recommendations aimed at employers, public bodies and specific recommendations for the UK nations.

In this General Election year, Carers UK is campaigning for better recognition and commitment for unpaid Carers from all political parties.

An additional YouGov Political Omnibus poll of over 4,200 members of the public showed widespread backing for more support to be given to unpaid Carers. 73% said unpaid Carers should receive more support from the next Government, particularly financial support and investment in social care.

Sign Carers UK’s Open Letter to the Prime Minister
We encourage you to raise your voice in support of Carers in the run up to the General Election on 4 July. Please sign Carers UK’s open letter to the future Prime Minister. You can also write to the local candidates standing in your constituency.