Family Carers Not Given Support They Need, Report Finds

Tue,20 February 2024
News Employment Health & Social Care Money
A report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has found that carers are not being given the support they need, meaning many are forced to work alongside caring responsibilities, or are being forced out of work altogether. 

Our social care system is failing both Disabled people and carers, and the large intersection of Disabled people who are also carers, by not providing the right support to ensure carers can stay in work if they choose to, or be financially supported by our social security system if they are unable to work whilst caring for a loved-one. 

CSJ’s report surveyed family carers and found that nearly 400,000 family carers have left paid employment to look after a Disabled or older person in the year 2021-22. The results of the survey also show that 65% of those not currently in full-time work say they would take up paid employment if they could, and 59% say they would take up paid work with the right support in place.  

It is important to remember that our current social security system is leaving carers without the support they need, meaning many feel compelled to go back into paid employment to fill the financial gap that being on carers’ benefit creates. Those who want to balance caring responsibilities and the opportunity to work outside the home, should be supported to do so, and those who are unable to work on top of intense caring responsibilities shouldn’t have to work or worry about paying their next food or energy bill.  

We resist the narratives built around a so-called ‘economically inactive’ class, terminology used to pressure Disabled people and carers into work, when in fact our economic and social labour is a vital – and often unpaid – part of the economy. Family carers reduce the pressure on social services and the NHS, as the current social care system is not fit for purpose and does not care for our population as it should. 

Some of the recommendations we support in an effort to improve the lives of carers, both those in paid employment and those who aren’t, include statutory carer’s days allowed as paid time off, increase the earnings threshold for carer’s allowances, free, accessible social care provisions for all and a state-funded improvement in general home adaptations for those who need them. 

Dan White, a policy and campaigns officer at DR UK alongside being a Disabled carer said: 

The first thing we need to do before anything else is to fix social care and make sure it ascends to the top of the next government's priority list. I am beyond tired of seeing my fellow carers feeling pressured into work because there is absolutely no adequate financial support in place. Care is different for everyone, no two carers are alike except perhaps for the fact they are exhausted and in poverty. Fix social care, drop the crass rules on overseas care workers, we need them! And pay carers a real, decent, livable and supportive wage first. If this is done, then carers could work if they wished, and if it was possible for them to do so.”