Broke or Broken: Scottish Carers Battle Poverty and Depression

More than than one in three (40%) carers surveyed in Scotland do not want to wake up in the morning because of dire financial circumstances, and is calling on the government for greater support, reveals new research launched today (Thursday 23rd September) by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

The survey found that just over 40% of carers, who provide unpaid care for a sick or disabled family member, who work earn less than £10,000 a year, with more than three-fifths (64.8%) having to spend all of their savings to support the person they care for. 97.2% say that they are financially worse off as a result of caring and, consequently, more than two-fifths (47.1%) fear they will lose their home.

To cover basic living needs, one in ten (10%) carers questioned have borrowed exceptionally high-interest loans (41% plus APR), while almost three-quarters (73.3%) have had to borrow money off family and friends.

The added financial pressures are causing more than half (52%) of carers to want to run away from their caring role, while 18% are turning to alcohol or drugs to cope. Unsurprisingly, nearly one in three (29.3%) of carers surveyed are fearful of the future.

Irene, 46, had to give up work more than a year ago to carry on caring. She cares for her mum, who has Alzheimer’s, her dad, who has heart problems and her husband who has limited mobility because of a back injury and arthritis. Irene says: “I’ve gone from a weekly income of more than £200 to just under £60 a week since giving up work. There are lots of things I can’t afford any more and I struggle to pay bills. Carer’s Allowance is £53.90 a week – as I look after my mum for 168 hours a week, this works out as only 32p an hour.”

To address these issues, more than a third (36.4%) carers surveyed is calling on the new coalition government to increase Carer’s Allowance and two-fifths (40%) want greater support to make it easier for them to combine caring and paid work.

Sustainable funding for Carers’ Centres is critical – without that support, crisis situations would develop costing the state far more in the longer term. Carers’ Centres also have a substantial role in income maximisation for carers and their families – bringing in £1.6 million into local economies in Glasgow alone.

Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers says: “The new UK coalition government has an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of carers. As part of their welfare reform they must ensure greater financial support for carers, and the Comprehensive Spending Review must deliver the improved community support for carers to combine work and care, as pledged already by the government in June. Six million carers will judge the government by the decisions they make in the next two months.”

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has launched a new advice guide for carers 10 Things Every Carer Should Know, which is available online at: www.carers.org Carers can also get help by visiting their local Trust Carers’ Centre or www.carers.org

For further information please contact: Emma Baird (Press and PR Manager at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers) on 0141 285 7938/07791 230261, email: ebaird@carers.org

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Notes to editor:

Additional statistics

  • Three-fifths (62.5%) of carers have given up paid work to care.
  • Two-thirds (66.7%) have no savings.
  • 46% are depressed and can’t cope.
  • More than a fifth (22.4%) are suffering from stress.

Methodology
The survey was carried out by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers who surveyed 800 carers across the UK, including 53? in Scotland. Females (76%) and males (24%) took part. The majority (40%) cared for a husband/wife/partner. The survey launched on 31St July and closed on 15th September 2010.

For more information on the Comprehensive Spending Review visit:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spend_index.htm

Key facts

Adult carers:

  • There are more than 650,000 carers in Scotland today
  • 100,000 carers are caring for more than 50 hours every week
  • One in eight people in Scotland is a carer
  • 80% of the care provided in Scotland is provided by unpaid carers at home
  • It is estimated carers save the public purse £7.68 billion each year
  • The Princess Royal Trust for Carers supports more than 50,000 carers in Scotland through 29 Carers’ Centres reaching from Orkney to the Borders.

Young carers:

  • There are 100,000 young carers in Scotland, according to a 2004 survey of young people in Scotland by the Scottish Government
  • One in every 12 secondary school children is a young carer
  • The Princess Royal Trust for Carers supports 3,500 young carers through 53 young carers’ services throughout Scotland.

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is the largest provider of comprehensive support services, reaching over 400,000 carers, including approximately 25,000 young carers, through a unique network of 144 independently managed Carers’ Centres, 85 young carers’ services and interactive websites, www.carers.org and www.youngcarers.net. To find your nearest Carers’ Centre, call 0844 800 4361.

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Contact: Emma Baird
Phone: 0141 285 7938
Email: ebaird@carers.org
Website: http://www.carers.org