Headlines: May 30th, 2007

A report today says some people caring for sick and disabled relatives and friends are having to give up their jobs, sell their homes, cut essential spending and even sacrifice their pensions. “Real change, not short change”, produced by Carers UK is calling for a full review of incomes and services for carers and their families.

The report into the long term financial impact of caring is based on a survey of almost 3,000 carers, which found that they face a severe financial penalty as soon as they start caring. By contrast, the report says, their support is worth a staggering 57 billion a year to the state. Many carers are deeply anxious about their financial future and often stop work, sell property and even cut back spending on food, clothes and heating. The survey shows the benefits system as it stands does not allow carers an acceptable standard of living and fails to recognise or value them for their contribution to the national economy.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said carers were often consigned to a life on the margins because the benefits system was outdated and they felt short-changed by it. She called for a radical overhaul of the tax and benefits system and for heavy investment in social care. “Demographic trends point to the need for an additional three million carers over the next 30 years. It means that some 10 million people will experience the harsh realities that come from being a carer and the detrimental effects that can remain with them for the rest of their lives,” she said.

The survey results released today show that almost three-quarters of carers are worse off since taking on the role and more than half say financial worries are affecting their health. A third are in debt and three out of ten report cutting back on food or heating. The report says caring hits hard in the first year with many people struggling to cope with the changes in their situation and finances. Parents of disabled children and those caring for adult disabled children face the biggest financial struggle. Carers under 60 are also badly affected, suffering greater debt and difficulty in paying bills.

Carers UK is urging carers to back its “Real change, not short change” campaign. More details can be found at www.carersuk.org

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