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Number of unpaid carers rapidly increasing

15th February 2013

The number of unpaid carers in England and Wales has continued to rise, according to latest figures.

Hands Young and Old

Data from the Office for National statistics (ONS) has shown that since 2001 the number has risen by 600,000 to 5.8 million with the newest figures from 2011 showing the largest rise was among unpaid carers working for 50 or more hours a week.

The ONS study into unpaid care in England and Wales found that more than 12% of the population in Wales provided some level of care in 2011 with the highest levels in England in the North West, North East and West Midlands and the lowest in London.

Figures suggest that 1.4m people are now providing round-the-clock care, a 25% increase (270,000) since 2001.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK said: “Family life is changing as a result of our ageing population and the fact that people are living longer with disability and long-term ill-health.

“Too often the costs and pressures of caring for older or disabled loved ones can force families to give up work to care and lead to debt, poor health and isolation.

“In addition, as more families need help to care, social care support and disability benefits are being cut. This risks putting even more pressure on families, many of whom are already struggling to cope.”

The ONS said unpaid care was an important statistic as unpaid carers made a vital contribution to the supply of care but their role also affected their employment opportunities and their social and leisure activities.

 

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