Unpaid carers putting themselves second

Tuesday 11 November 2014

• Over 50s make up more than 3.6 million of Britain’s unpaid carers • Unpaid carers save the taxpayer millions every month • An estimated 792,000 over 50s have quit work or changed their hours to care for loved ones.

The cost of putting yourself second – unpaid, over-50s carers

Society calls them ‘unpaid carers’ but they might prefer ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘grandparent’ or ‘friend’. Whatever their title, for millions of over 50s in Britain, there is an unseen cost to life and their finances when they look after loved ones.

Research by Saga Personal Finance* shows that nearly a fifth of Britain’s over 50s regularly care for an elderly loved one or friend without financial reward, in their own home or at another location. Worryingly, an estimated 792,000 of these 3.6 million unpaid carers are forced to juggle careers and forego income to do invaluable work that saves the taxpayer millions.

At a time when they should be making plans for their own retirement, many Britons are instead giving up their time and hard-earned money to help others. The person receiving care may need help because of a chronic illness, disability or frailty and many unpaid carers often foot the bill for a huge range of costs.

The majority say they spend on average £170 per month. Overall that is some £612 million**. This figure doesn’t take into account the opportunity cost of not being able to work.

Family carers also spend money on altering their homes to make life better for loved ones. Whether it’s to make their houses more accessible with rails and ramps, or simply upping the comfort factor by redecorating, almost a quarter of the selfless army say they’ve made adaptations to suit the needs of the person they look after. Such adaptations can cost thousands of pounds***.

The cost of major adaptations is one of the reasons why many people are considering equity release. As families turn to what is their biggest asset to help make life better for them and their loved ones.

Jeff Bromage, chief operating officer, Saga Personal Finance, commented: “Unpaid family carers do so much good for other people and society as a whole. In doing so, many don’t count the cost to their own pocket or health. They are the glue that holds our caring society together.

“Saga is calling for extra help for those that can’t afford vital home adaptations, which can be vital for the quality of life of both the carer and the person receiving care.”


*Populus interviewed 9,794 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 12 and 19 September 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information see www.populus.co.uk.
**According to the poll 3.6 million unpaid carers over 50 pay, on average, £170 per month each in costs. £170 x 3600000 = £612 million.
***An electric stairlift can cost around £3,000, while a walk-in bath can cost up to £4,000.

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