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Over 2 million quit job to care for loved ones

Published on 07 March 2013 11:30 AM

Over 2 million Britons have quit their jobs to take care of sick, disabled or older family members and loved ones, new research has found.


Care-giving responsibilities have affected the paid work situation of over 1 in 5 adults. The online survey for the Carers UK charity estimates that 2.3 million UK adults have left their jobs to take care of a loved one.

Close to 3 million adults have cut back on their paid work hours to handle care-giving responsibilities, the February poll of 2,073 adults revealed.

The age group that was most affected was adults from 45-54. More than a quarter, or 27%, of this group said that care-giving had affected their paid job. The impact was highest amongst 45-54 year olds, where more than 1 in 4 reported that caring had taken a toll on their work (27%).

Carers UK has pointed to the impact on family finances of giving up work or cutting working hours - including the risk of financial hardship and debt and the long-term damage to carers' careers and pensions.

Previous estimates by Age UK also indicated that the cost to the economy of carers being forced to give up work to care showed had reached £5.3 billion in lost tax revenues and earnings and additional benefit payments.

Government needs to provide carers with better support

In response to this study, Carers UK and the association Employers for Carers are urging the Government to give greater support to people who are coping with paid jobs and caring responsibilities at home.

'As with childcare a generation ago, employers can play a critical role in shifting how we as a society support people with family responsibilities,' the Carers UK chief executive, Helena Herklots, said.

She added: 'But support from employers can only go so far, and families need to be able to access reliable, good quality and affordable care and support services to enable them to juggle work and care.

'Without urgent action from government to ensure families can access this support, millions more will see their careers and earnings suffer - with long-term personal costs to families and significant costs to business and the UK economy.'

1 in 10 care for sick, disabled or older family member

The study results follow the 2011 census in England and Wales, which revealed that one in 10 residents, or 5.8 million people, give over some of their week to taking care of sick, disabled or older family members and loved ones without expecting any remuneration.

The 2011 census results represent an 11% rise on 2001 census, which recorded 5.2 million unpaid care-givers.

The largest increase was found among those adults who spend more than 20 hours each week caring for loved ones. In 2001 the figure was 1.66 million, while in 2011 the number had grown to 2.1 million.

Also growing was the number of people spending 50 hours or more each week caring for family or friends. In the 10 years between each census, the number had increased by 300,000 people, making for a 2011 total of 1.36 million adults who devote 50 hours and more to care-giving each week.

Heart-rending choices

Michelle Mitchell Charity Director General commented, 'Every day families have to make heart-rending choices between earning a much needed wage or leaving work to take on the role of full-time carer. Family carers must not be forced out of work as a result of the erosion of state support.

'Flexible working helps carers make life more manageable, but extending it would herald a major change in the way we work and would meet the needs of older workers many of whom have to care for a relative.

'The future of social care is one of the most important issues facing the country as thousands of older people who need help are still not getting the support they desperately need. Government must urgently address the spiralling crisis in social care by ensuring that every older person gets the help that they need when they need it, and that carers get the practical support that they need, including access to good respite care.'

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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