There are more than 660,000 carers in Scotland, collectively providing care worth more than £10.3bn per year, an average £18,473 per carer. Shifting the balance of care will mean family members providing more care in the home, more often. By 2037 it is projected that there will be one million carers in Scotland, almost a fifth of the entire population. Many of these carers will be older people themselves; currently 40,000 older people in Scotland provide 20 hours of social care each week for their friends and family members. It is essential that account is taken of their needs.
This year nearly 5,000 carers shared their experiences in the State of Caring 2014 report, to building a picture of what it is like to be a Carer in 2014 and its not a happy picture. Spiralling costs of caring, coupled with devastating cuts to support, which are leaving families caring for loved ones in serious hardship.
The report shows:
- Almost half (47%) of carers are in debt as a result of their caring role, with 1 in 6 being in debt over £10,000
- A fifth of carers are relying on an overdraft or credit card to make ends meet
- 1 in 3 over £20,000 worse off as a result of caring
- Almost half are cutting back on essentials like food (44%) and heating (46%)
- 59% of carers are in fuel poverty
- Savings of 1 in 10 carers are bring totally drained by basic bills and everyday living costs
- 170,112 people in Scotland had given up work to care at some point, while half of working-age carers are in a household with no-one in paid work.
And, Carers Scotland says, carers not only feel they are not recognised or valued but also feel victim of increasing public criticism for claiming their social security entitlements.
Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland said: “Those caring, unpaid, for loved ones save society vast sums, but at huge personal cost – a cost this Inquiry shows is pushing families to the brink. Caring is often a dual blow, with household incomes hit by reduced earnings, and bills rising as a result of the extra costs of ill-health or disability. With an ageing population, more of us will care for loved ones – yet a blizzard of cuts to social care and benefits mean there is less and less support available. This is unacceptable and unsustainable. This country’s carers are being badly let down. Unless Governments act to stop the cuts to support for carers there is the risk families will be pushed to breaking point and left unable to care for their own.”
What are Carer’s rights?
Carers Scotland guide: A guide to the law relating to unpaid carers
Carers and their Rights is Carers Scotland’s definitive guide to unpaid carers’ rights to support from health and social care.
Contact Silver Line Scotland for information and advice about caring for an older person. 0800 4 70 80 90. Silver Line Scotland can also do a benefit check to find out if there are benefits you are entitled to that you are not already claiming.