Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi
One in six unpaid carers in the UK is spending 40 more hours per week caring than they did before coronavirus hit, a study has found.
The research carried out by the Carers Trust found almost two thirds (64%) of carers spend 50 hours per week or more caring for a family relative.
The number of people spending this much time caring has tripled in nine years.
Some 54% said they had have given up or reduced paid work because of caring responsibilities, with 64% saying they do not receive enough government support.
Two-thirds of carers said they had increased the amount of caring they do during the pandemic.
Single mother Gayna Griffin takes care of her two disabled daughters and has seen a surge in the amount of work needed to be done and a reduction in the support she receives due to the pandemic.
She told ITV News: "It's constant, I can't remember the last time I was on my own."
Many local councils have been forced to close places like day centres and cut in house support due to safety fears caused by the pandemic.
Claire Reece cares for her disabled son Hugo and saw her support from the local council cut drastically due to the pandemic.
She told ITV News: "I worry constantly about the 'what ifs' and how we're going to manage over the rest of the winter months - it's exhausting."
Ms Reece said Hugo has been unable to do any of the social activities he used to enjoy and the family had little respite.
The Carers Trust found only one in eight unpaid carers say they are getting enough support from the social care system, with many saying they are exhausted, lonely and worried about their finances.
Just 12% of the 2,078 unpaid carers polled by the charity said they are receiving enough support.The Government provides a weekly carer’s allowance of £67.25 in England.However, the Carers Trust said this is “pushing many exhausted carers into real financial hardship”.Responses to its survey paint an unacceptable and “highly concerning picture of loneliness, stress, financial concerns and poverty, impossible choices, and constant juggling”, the charity said.
Many people will have become unpaid carers to people who are living with “Long Covid”, the report said, while people with mental health problems who receive care may have deteriorated during the pandemic.One respondent said: “I’m exhausted. Really exhausted. I don’t think I can face six more months like the last six months.
“I really feel like … carers (have) been abandoned.”
Another carer, asked what they are worried or concerned about during the next six months, said: “Everything. Death, being able to cope, the crushing loneliness and poverty.”
The majority of carers surveyed said they most needed a break from their role, some time for themselves, more financial support, better health, social care and education services for the person they care and support for their own mental health.
Carers Trust chief executive Gareth Howells said: “This survey lays bare the human cost of a lack of investment in our social care system and the ever-increasing burden being placed on unpaid carers.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We recognise the vital role played by unpaid carers, especially during this difficult period, and we continue to work closely with carer organisations to support them.
“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.”