Earlier in Carers Week 2022, I commented on the economic benefit and value of unpaid carers - the equivalent input of their care to the system brings enormous benefits to society with a significant financial value.
But what about the cost to carers? My other blogs this week, in recognition of Carers Week, have hopefully served to highlight some of the burdens borne by carers, particularly from a practical and emotional perspective.
But what about the economic cost to unpaid carers themselves?
Almost half of adult carers have had to give up their job and wages due to their caring responsibilities and then, in addition, have had to use their own savings to fund themselves and their caring responsibilities. Not only are they meeting an unmet need out of sheer necessity, but they are also having to bear additional costs for doing so.
Carers allowance can be claimed for those who qualify but at remuneration of just £69.70 a week for at least 35 hours of care, with the potential for other benefits the carer might be entitled to being impacted by a claim for carers allowance - the 'compensation' of National Insurance contributions being made will probably be little comfort.
Added to the financial costs of care, the impact on personal lives and the time available to pursue their own interests and self-care, it is perhaps no wonder that unpaid carers report significantly greater levels of stress, exhaustion and dissatisfaction than most other sectors of society.
The aim of Carers Week 2022 is to seek to make unpaid carers 'Visible, Valued and Supported' but with such personal financial cost, do we, as a wider society really understand the sacrifices that are routinely made? Are we truly valuing carers and the important role they play? Are we really supporting carers and their role, contribution and value?
Or should we be doing more?
Almost half (48%) of all adult carers had had to give up work and an income because of their caring role. 49% of carers had had to use personal savings and 51% of carers had had to give personal interests because of their caring role.