Half of home carers who provide 35 hours a week or more of care for loved-ones are missing out on vital support, according to new research published today.
Carers UK is calling on the public to help ensure that people they know, who care for elderly or disabled friends and relatives, get the benefits and support they are entitled to.
Research by Carers UK, released to coincide with Carers Rights Day, found that 50% of the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers have not had a Carer’s Assessment from their local authority.
The Government recently introduced new legislation under the Care Act 2014, which enshrines the right to a Carer’s Assessment in England into law.
However, despite of this, significant numbers of home carers have yet to be properly assessed to determine an appropriate level of support.
Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in Scotland and Wales in April 2016, placing a duty on local authorities to meet the needs of carers identified during an assessment.
A Carer’s Assessment helps to build up a picture about the type and nature of support a carer needs to continue caring. The assessment looks at many different aspects of life, including physical, mental and emotional needs.
Previous studies by the Carers UK show that £1.1 billion of Carer’s Allowance remains unclaimed each year, while a recent Government study reveals that 95% of carers who are entitled to Carer’s Credit are not claiming it.
Figures show that unpaid carers save the UK £132 billion a year, with the value of carers to the economy doubling since 2001 – from £68 billion to £132 billion.
Chief Executive of Carers UK, Heléna Herklots, warned: “If even a small percentage of people were unable to continue caring, the economic impact would be catastrophic.
“Worryingly, we are edging towards this possibility, as the pressure on families to provide more care with less support is intensifying.”
Carers UK surveyed 4,935 carers and former carers between February to April 2015, as part of the annual State of Caring Survey.
4,572 of these responded to the survey, with many of those questioned being elderly or disabled themselves whilst struggling to provide several hours of care for loved-ones.
Heléna Herklots said: “Important developments in the rights of carers mean it’s never been more important to make sure carers get the right information and advice about what they’re entitled to, when they need it.
“Helping carers to know their rights is at the heart of everything we do at Carers UK; we offer expert information and advice through our website and Adviceline, and connect carers to one another through our online forum to ensure that no one has to care alone.
“So if you know someone who is caring for a loved one, connect them to Carers UK this Carers Rights Day.
“Every year, 2.1 million people begin caring for a disabled, older or seriously-ill loved one in the UK. Taking on a new caring role can happen quite suddenly and can turn many families’ lives upside down.
“It could be that a partner has a stroke, a parent has a fall, or a child is born with a disability. When people take on a new caring role, they worryingly tell us that it can be really difficult to get the help and advice they need.
“Without this support, caring can take a serious toll on a person’s health, finances and wellbeing. That’s why we’ve created Upfront – the first online guide of its kind to give tailored financial and practical information to those who are new to caring.
“We are also publishing our annual Carers Rights Guide to make sure carers are informed about any changes to their rights and know where to go to get the support they need.
“This Carers Rights Day, you can make a positive difference to the life of a carer by connecting them to Carers UK.”