Census reveals 5M UK has unpaid carers: Quilter tax expert highlights financial options

by | Jan 20, 2023

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Written by Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter

New data from the 2021 Census has found that 5 million people in the UK from age 5 and up provide unpaid care in the UK.

This staggering figure shows how integral unpaid carers are to propping up the UK’s crumbling care system. Particularly for young carers fulfilling a caring role for a family member can have a lasting effect on their life chances. The data also showed that the proportion of people who provided 20 to 49 hours of unpaid care a week increased from 1.5% in 2011 to 1.9% in 2021 and those who provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week increased slightly from 2.7% in 2011 to 2.8% in 2021.

Despite the social care system in UK struggling under significant strain, during the Autumn Statement, chancellor Jeremy Hunt, announced a two-year delay to the adult social care charging reforms, including the £86,000 cap on care costs, which are now due to come into force in October 2025, beyond the next election. One positive is that instead of retaining the funding allocated for the reforms in the Treasury, Hunt said it would still go to councils, with £1.3bn available in 2023-24 and £1.9bn in 2024-25 to spend on adults’ and children’s social care.

 
 

There are a number of options available for unpaid carers that can help financially both today and in the future. For example, you might be able to get £69.70 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits. However, there are a number of criteria that need to be met to be able to claim this allowance so it’s best to check online before making a claim.

Similarly, those who do not get a carer’s allowance but do care for someone can also claim Carers Credits which are National Insurance credits that help with gaps in your National Insurance record. Your National Insurance record ultimately determines how much State Pension you receive. You can get a Carer’s Credit if you’re caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week. A Freedom of Information request found that in 2021 just 5,646 people claimed carer’s credits, which is lower than the figure pre-pandemic. In 2015, the Department for Work & Pensions estimated around 200,000 carers are eligible, with women making up a substantial proportion. It is expected this number has increased since 2015 so it is worth exploring if you think you might be eligible.

Unfortunately, many people fail to see themselves as carers and fail to apply for benefits provided by the government. Failing to do so can have a disastrous impact on someone’s financial wellbeing. For example, as many people begin being a carer later on in life they may need the credits to get the full state pension and failing to claim can mean they get less money in retirement.

 

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