Carers' unpaid hours are saving taxpayers £132 billion per year, report reveals 

Carers pageThe number of unpaid hours that carers are working has risen dramatically since 2001 and is saving the taxpayer £132 billion a year, according to a new report from both the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds and Carers UK.

The Valuing Carers 2015 Report- authored by Sue Yeandle, Professor of Sociology in the Faculty's Department of Sociological Studies, and Dr Lisa Buckner from the University of Leeds - and published by Carers UK, shows that the economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is almost double what it was in 2001 and at £132 billion per year, it is close to the total annual cost of health spending in the UK (£134.1 billion in the year 2014-15).

The figures mean that, in 2015, the value of the contribution made by the UK’s carers saves the public purse enormous sums every week, day and hour of the year:

£2.5 billion per week
£362 million per day
£15.1 million per hour

The Report found that carers are providing more care for two main reasons: because care needs are greater, due to an increasingly ageing population, and because there is less homecare support now than there was in 2010.

Speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield last week, Professor Sue Yeandle said: “Most of the support that carers need is provided through local authorities and local authorities have, particularly in the last few years, been under enormous financial pressure, so that is a principal issue.

"But, we also need to respond flexibly to what people do and sometimes, the services we offer aren’t designed properly to work with the needs that family carers have.

“I can’t stress enough that the increase in the contribution that carers are making has increased dramatically and it does save the Nation’s public purse the equivalent of the cost of the National Health Service. Without support, we know that the health of the people providing care, particularly those caring for many hours a week on a long-term basis, will suffer and their own situation will deteriorate, making them at risk of needing support themselves. It makes their care unsustainable.

“The concern we have at the moment is that the future is looking very bleak in the sense that we’ve seen big cuts in the amount of home care being provided through local authorities, particularly in England and that’s putting huge pressure on carers.”

The Valuing Carers 2015 Report calls for better financial support for carers and an increased investment in social care services ahead of the Chancellor’s spending review, announced with the Autumn Statement on November 2015.

Speaking to ITV’s Calendar last week, Professor Yeandle added: “It’s really a wake up call for the government and the Chancellor. We really need to properly address the funding of long-term care because if we don’t we will also be jeopardising our National Health Service. People cannot provide care well if they do not have support in the wider system. That’s the challenge we have to face.”