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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Carers lose thousands in income each year 

This news post is 6 months old

Nearly half of working age carers lose £12,000 annually. 

A new report by Carers Scotland sets out the struggles that unpaid carers face in juggling paid work and unpaid care and the support that can help them stay in or return to work.

Nearly half of working age carers lose £12,000 of income per year because they provide care. 

More than half (56%) of the working carers who responded to Carers Scotland’s State of Caring survey were caring for 35 hours or more each week – equivalent to a full-time job – as well as working in paid employment or self-employment - either full or part-time.

32% of unpaid carers of working age reported that they had given up work to care, 27% had reduced their hours and 17% had taken on a less qualified job or turned down promotion. Affordable and accessible replacement social care is vital to enable carers to work, yet a quarter (24%) of working age carers said they had to give up work or cut hours because social care was not meeting their needs.

Given that over a third (36%) of working age carers say they would like to return to work or increase their hours if the right support was available, social care is crucial to enable this to happen

A supportive employer is also of significant importance, the survey found, with half (50%) of working carers saying this helped them juggle work and care.

The consequences of a lack of support to help carers balance work and care can be long lasting.

Giving up work, reducing hours and limiting career opportunities can lead to carers missing out on thousands of pounds of income.  

One in four (42%) working age carers reported that they were losing £1,000 or more of income every month; 13% reported losing £2,000 or more per month. 

It is unsurprising that carers are also struggling with the cost of living with one in four (23%) working carers and 28% of all carers reporting that they are struggling to make ends meet. 

These impacts also last long into retirement with part-time workers less likely (84% versus 65%) to be able to rely on an occupational pension on retirement and for those on Carer’s Allowance, less than half (45%) will have such a pension.

Sue McLintock, carer positive manager at Carers Scotland, said: “A lack of support to enable carers both to stay in and return to paid work can have profound and long-lasting impacts. 

“The loss of income and opportunity that carers face – whether they can remain in employment or not – is shocking. 

“With nearly half of working age carers (49%) saying that they have been caring for 10 years or more this could amount to hundreds of thousands of lost pounds over their caring journey.

“This loss reverberates into retirement, with far too many carers reliant on just a State Pension, blocked from saving for a more comfortable retirement, and facing poverty in old age, by a lack of support from social care services and employers.

“There is a pressing need for employers, the Scottish and local government to do more to ensure that carers have the right support – at work and for their caring role – to remain in or return to employment if they wish to.”

The report sets out a range of recommendations for the Scottish Government, employers, local councils and health and social care partnerships about developing the environment that supports carers rather than providing barriers to their aspirations.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Carer Positive initiative, which is run by Carers Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government. The initiative supports employers to create carer friendly workplaces. To date over 260 organisations have achieved one of the three levels of accreditation (engaged, established or exemplary) and nearly 500,000 employees are covered by accredited employers.