Unpaid carers at "breaking point" warns Carers Wales

October 20, 2021 - 361 views

Unpaid carers are being pushed to breaking point with many struggling to cope with the extra pressure COVID-19 is putting on social care services, warns Carers Wales.

The charity is calling on the UK Government ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review to urgently invest in social care over the next three years to help unpaid carers across Wales.

New research from Carers Wales and Carers UK’s State of Caring report, which will be released in full next month, reveals many of the services that unpaid carers depend on to help their loved ones have reduced or closed.

Six in 10 (63%) who use crucial day services have reduced or no access and only 12% of carers are confident that they would get the support they need in the next 12 months. Only 9% are confident they will get enough respite over the next year.

Nearly 7 in 10 (66%) said they are worried services will be reduced and over half (53%) said they are worried about losing access to voluntary sector services because of funding constraints.

1 in 5 (22%) unpaid carers who work said they would be forced to reduce their working hours or be at risk of giving up work altogether if they do not get affordable and accessible care to support them to balance caring with employment. 

Claire Morgan, Carers Wales Director, said: “Despite the critical role of unpaid carers, many continue to care for the most vulnerable people with little or no support. Without adequate funding for social care, the pressure that has been building on unpaid carers for years, will push many over the edge.

"As any additional social care funding will not start this winter, carers continue to face a difficult future.
The Comprehensive Spending Review must recognise this and invest in unpaid carers without delay, or we risk sleepwalking into a new social care crisis. The Chancellor has the power to change carers’ lives significantly for the better if he funds social care properly now.” 

Carers UK estimates the number of unpaid carers increased by 4.5 million at the height of the pandemic to 13.6 million. Unpaid carers also saved the UK economy £193 billion a year during the pandemic. 

The number of unpaid carers in Wales is predicted to have increased by 196,000 at the height of the pandemic to 683,000. Unpaid carers also saved the Welsh economy £12 billion a year during the pandemic.

Carers across the UK are in dire need of support and though social care in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Government, action from the UK Government now would help the Welsh Government to provide the investment carers in Wales urgently need.

Carers Wales is calling for: 

- An immediate increase in funding for social care to ensure that services can manage over winter.
- Increased social care funding over the next three years until funding comes through from the Health and Care Levy. 
- Significant investment in reinstating and creating new services at the regional and local level that support carers in their role.