Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Four in 10 family carers considering leaving the workforce

Four in 10 (41%) family carers are considering leaving the workforce or reducing their working hours due to caregiving demands, a new survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Opinium, included 1,530 working-age carers. It reveals that a staggering number of carers are unable to keep up with the demands of their caring roles alongside their jobs.

The results of the survey have been published in the Creating a Britain that Works and Cares report, which warns that the government could lose £2.8 billion in 2024 in benefits payments to individuals who are not working due to unpaid caring, plus another £3.3 billion in lost taxes and national insurance contributions.

The report calls for better support of working-age carers, including a ‘one stop shop’ for carers, based in GP surgeries and hospitals, that guides family carers through the complex social care system.

400,000 family carers left their jobs in 2021/22

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions reveal that in 2021/22, nearly 400,000 carers had to leave their jobs to care for older or disabled family members.

Carers are estimated to contribute £162 billion per year by reducing pressure on social services and the NHS, and the CSJ says supporting carers would therefore help the government to reduce economic inactivity.

Although more than half of local authority budgets are spent on adult social care (£26.9 billion in all), thresholds have become so high due to budget constraints, that only half of people in need of adult social care support are receiving it. When the support is provided, two-thirds of family carers find it unsatisfactory.

Families have therefore had to step in to fill this gap. However, this is having a huge impact on family carers, with 41% now contemplating leaving the labour market or reducing their hours over the coming year. Negative impacts include:

  • A cumulative disadvantage on employees who are family carers (particularly in pension and retirement)
  • Employers facing reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, reduced employee engagement and morale, and high staff turnover rates
  • A huge cost to the UK economy in unplanned absences, costing £3.5 billion per year.

However, 59% of full-time workers and 69% of part-time workers would return to work or increase their hours at work if they had the ‘right support’ in place.

Four in 10 respondents not in paid employment also said they would go back to work if they were granted five days of paid leave or if they were granted 10 hours of free domiciliary care a week. The same number said raising the Carer’s Allowance earnings threshold would also motivate them to go back to work.

Calls for government to provide better support

The CSJ is now calling on the government to implement an array of measures to better support family carers of working age. These measures have been influenced by good practice examples in other countries around the world.

This includes introducing a Family Carer’s Register to identify and support family carers, a ‘one stop shop’ where carers can access support, and a new communications campaign to improve uptake of Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit.

The CSJ says these measures aim to support and incentivise working-age carers, addressing a critical aspect of economic inactivity.

The think tank highlights that family carers play a crucial role in society, and without them, the most vulnerable risk suffering indignities including ‘penury and frustrated needs’ while state services will be under ‘greater pressure’.

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