- In 2021 5m people aged five and over provided unpaid care in England and Wales.
- An estimated 1.8 million people provided 9 hours or less of unpaid care a week
- 1.5m people provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week.
- Support for carers is key to getting more older people back into the workplace.
The ONS has released data on unpaid social care Unpaid care, England and Wales – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:
“There’s a huge hidden workforce of unpaid carers who desperately need support. Social care debate often centres on the number of families facing the enormous financial pressures of funding care home fees. It’s right that this issue is brought to attention but what is often forgotten is the hidden workforce of people who provide unpaid care within the home. An estimated 5m people in England and Wales said they provided some element of unpaid care with 1.5m providing 50 or more hours a week.
Without support these families face horrible mental, physical and financial strain that can put people under real pressure as they try to balance caring for a loved one around their other responsibilities as well as trying to make a living. Providing care for even a few hours per week can make it very difficult for people to go out and find work – and if you are one of the estimated 3m people providing more than this it must be pretty impossible. Let’s not forget younger carers who may find their schooling disrupted as they try to fulfil their responsibilities and the long-term impacts this can have on them.
Caring for a loved one is a key reason why we are seeing older workers leaving the workforce. Trying to tempt the over 50s back into work is a priority for government with rumours of potential tax breaks being offered. However, the provision of more flexible working environments will be vital in helping people back. Their caring responsibilities mean a 9-5 just simply isn’t possible for many of these people and we will need to see a much more flexible approach being taken in terms of hours worked and home working if returning to work is to be a viable option.”