Financial difficulties faced by carers could be increasing the pressures of social isolation, a major new study has highlighted.
The survey of more than 55,000 carers, published by NHS Digital, revealed that almost 40 per cent of carers who reported the most serious financial difficulties also admitted they felt isolated.
A fifth had been providing unpaid care for more than 20 years, it found, while 64 per cent had difficulty sleeping as a result of their role.
Carers UK director of policy and public affairs, Emily Holzhausen, said: “Around two million people have given up work at some point in their working lives to care, unpaid, for someone with a disability or illness.
“This can have a catastrophic impact on their finances.”
She added: “It is perhaps unsurprising that carers who face financial hardship feel particularly isolated.
“The main carer’s benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is only £62.70 per week and is the lowest benefit of its kind. It is crucial that an increase in financial support is part of any cross-governmental plan to support carers better.”
Coun Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Unpaid carers play an invaluable role in looking after those with care and support needs, and are estimated to save the economy £132billion a year. Without the incredible work of carers, social care and the NHS would collapse.
“The findings of this report and the link between financial problems caused by caring, and social isolation, highlight the need for government to set out how it will address the needs of carers in its long-awaited Carers Strategy.
“Supporting carers is fundamentally important to local government and we fully backed the important changes brought in by the Care Act to improve the lives of carers, in particular, the move to ensure that carers are recognised in law in the same way as those they care for.
“The whole sector needs to work together to identify carers, support carers in employment and ensure they are able to maintain their own health and wellbeing, while raising awareness among the wider community of the vital work they do.
“However, the continuing underfunding of adult social care has limited councils’ ability to provide support to people with care needs and their carers. It is absolutely critical that the Government brings forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care.”