Carers UK has identified 4.5 million new unpaid carers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and is calling for additional support to help them.
Millions of people have become unpaid carers during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Carers UK.
In response to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services 2020 budget survey report published this week, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, expressed concern about a potential “gaping hole in social care finances”.
She said: “Pre-COVID-19, there was already significant unmet need in the system with 40% of carers providing round the clock care saying they had not had a break in the last year. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we’ve seen unmet need increase. Added to that, we have vast numbers of new people providing unpaid care as a result of the pandemic – 4.5 million new unpaid carers across the UK. The amount of unpaid care provided has gone up – Carers UK’s research found 70% of those already providing care doing more and 55% of unpaid carers providing substantial care said they were close to burning out.”
Carers UK says it is seeing increased physical and mental health needs of disabled, ill and older people as well as unpaid carers supporting them.
It is calling for increased investment in social care in the longer term.
“Without sufficient social care, this will break families, their health, wellbeing and their ability to work. Doing nothing is not an option,” says Walker.
Carers UK is also calling for a rise in Carer’s Allowance [currently £67.25 a week for those providing care for 35 hours or more a week] and a one-off coronavirus Supplement of £20 a week to those entitled to Carer’s Allowance – to match the rise the Government has made for those receiving Universal Credit to meet extra costs during the pandemic.
It is calling for care and support services to be reinstated as soon as possible so that carers can take a break from caring and have better chances of staying in paid work.
A report out this week shows that more than 100,000 people caring unpaid for older or disabled relatives are using food banks to get by during the coronavirus pandemic and that almost 229,000 unpaid carers have had someone in their household go hungry during lockdown.
Carers UK is calling on the Government to bring forward schemes that identify carers and help them access food more easily where they have a clear need.