Unpaid carers spiralling into poverty as cost-of-living crisis bites

Carers Scotland has revealed family members caring for loved ones who are older or seriously ill are being plunged into poverty during the cost-of-living crisis. 

The survey that was conducted by the Scottish charity, which spoke to over 2000 unpaid carers, discovered one in four are struggling to make ends meet, with nearly 24% cutting back on essentials including food and heating. 

copper-colored coins on in person's hands

Research found nearly one in six carers said they were in debt because of their job role. 

Due to being on a low income, one in five carers are facing their energy bills taking up 50% of their limited pay and 11% of them are now having to rely on food banks. 

There are some costs carers simply cannot cut back on, such as heating and medical equipment, without affecting the health and the safety of the person they care for. 

Charities across the UK have spoken out about how the government’s financial plans are failing to consider vulnerable people, with Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society stating people with MS are being hit ‘especially hard’ by the cost-of-living crisis, as heating their homes helps to maintain circulation in their joints. 

Cost-of-living worries are also affecting the health of carers, with nearly two thirds reporting a negative impact. 

Carers Scotland Director, Richard Meade said: ‘Carers Scotland is deeply worried about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on unpaid carers.

‘Carers in ‘State of Caring 2022’ told us they’re facing impossible choices – to heat or to eat, to borrow or fall into arrears and debt– with little hope of increased incomes because the demands of their caring role make paid work or extra hours an impossibility. 

‘Scotland’s 800,000 carers provide £10.9bn worth of care every single year. Without them health and social care services would collapse.  Yet there has been insufficient recognition of this in helping to meet the extra costs they face. 

‘Without help, carers health, wellbeing and financial security will continue to deteriorate, especially over winter.  Carers need urgent action from both Governments now.’

Carers Scotland is urging action by both UK and Scottish Governments to uprate benefits in line with inflation and provide top up payments to carers to help support them through this difficult winter. 

The charity has also made wide ranging recommendations to the Scottish Government including, to introduce dedicated help with energy costs for households with a severely disabled person.

At a minimum this should include identifying those people with the highest costs related to their conditions e.g. hospital and hospice at home services, home oxygen, electric hoists and beds etc. and develop a financial support scheme to cover these additional costs. 

Photo by Annie Spratt


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