Stat of the day: Supporting working carers

By Angela Matthews

Today’s stats are from the recent report, “Supporting Working Carers: The Benefits to Families, Business and the Economy.” This report was published on August 27th.

There are 5.4 million unpaid carers in England. Of this number, 3 million balance employment with their care commitments. The figure that the press have been keen on is that 315,000 carers of working age have left employment – and remain unemployed – because of care commitments, and this costs the economy £1.3 billion per year.

The message that has come from qualitative research with carers is that employers are generally sympathetic – but this sympathy has not often turned into active support. Despite the large number of carers being in work, only 1 in 5 employers have carers policies in place. The Government are recognising that there needs to be improved joint consideration and effort from both employers to provide support and also from support services (such as day centres, for example).

Another economic problem created by this situation is that it tends to be people aged between 40-54 that are among the 315,000 who are giving up work to care. The report says that this is a huge loss of talent from people at the peak of their careers, with employers having already invested a lot of training and resources into their development. When their care commitment ends, they then find it difficult to get back into employment. This, in turn, has an impact on Job Seekers Allowance claims, and can also lead to financial hardship later in life.

Perhaps significant for us is that one of the report’s recommendations is for the Department of Health to encourage organisations to become members of Employers for Care. The report also urges the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to do more to raise awareness of working carers.

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