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8 June, 2020 Open access

4.5 million additional people have taken on an unpaid carer role as a result of COVID-19 pandemic

Coalition of carer’s charities say it's never been more important for government to reform carer support, including by increased financial support through coronavirus supplement to carer's allowance

An additional 4.5 million people have become unpaid carers since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started, according to to a new report from a coalition of charities in support of Carers Week

In The rise in the number of unpaid carers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the six charities - Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness - highlight that an estimated 4.5 million additional people are now caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the COVID-19 pandemic started, taking the total of unpaid carers in the UK to 13.6 million.

Based on polling of more than 4,000 people, the figures also show that -

As a result, the charities call for the government to increase awareness of the role of unpaid caring, and to reform social care support for carers. In addition, they call for increased financial support for unpaid carers through a £20 weekly coronavirus supplement to carer’s allowance.

Commenting on the report, chief executive of Carers UK Helen Walker said -

'Recognising the contribution of unpaid carers to our society and properly supporting them has never been more important than during this pandemic. An additional 4.5 million people are caring for sick, older or disabled loved ones – that’s the NHS workforce three times over. It demonstrates the scale of the care being provided behind closed doors, mostly hidden from view.

Unpaid carers are the pillars of our health and social care systems. Yet many say they feel invisible and ignored. There are thousands caring round the clock without the practical support they would normally rely on to take a break, while others face increased costs accessing food and care products.

The government must not take unpaid carers for granted in this crisis. It must ensure their physical and mental health is looked after and it is imperative that, moving out of the pandemic, the government rebuilds our care system so that carers are supported and families have the services they need to live better lives.’

For more information, see Carers Week: 4.5 million become unpaid carers in a matter of weeks from carersuk.org