Lindsey Burrow: Who Cares For Our Carers?

Unpaid carers in England and Wales are providing care worth an estimated £162 billion a year, the equivalent of a second NHS. But what is the cost to those who take on the responsibility of caring for others? Lindsey Burrow, who is an unpaid carer for her former rugby league player husband Rob, has been finding out.

We’ll meet carers like Sue, a 71-year-old unpaid carer who lives with her elderly Mum and husband who was recently diagnosed with dementia. Despite retiring years ago, Sue is busier than ever balancing care for two loved ones.

But carers like Sue can’t always get a break. Recent research suggests only 1 out of 142 carers receive any respite care, a fall of just over 40% since 2015. 

Other carers are feeling the squeeze of the cost of living crisis. Michael is an unpaid carer for his 29-year-old daughter Suzie who has been severely disabled since birth. He claims carer’s allowance and other benefits but he says he struggles to make ends meet.

On average 600 people a day leave work to care for others, and according to the Joseph Rowntree foundation, 44% of working age adults who care are in poverty.

The government told Tonight: “Unpaid carers play a vital role which is why we’ve increased Carer’s Allowance by almost £1200 since 2010. Carers may also be eligible for financial support through Universal Credit. Local authorities are responsible for assessing unpaid carers in their area and we’ve earmarked £327 million through our Better Care Fund this year providing carers with advice, support, short breaks and respite services.” 

In a poll of 2,000 people, commissioned by Tonight, nearly three quarters of those who took part said unpaid carers are underappreciated in the UK. What’s more, 66% of those asked said that the Government is doing a bad job at supporting unpaid carers. What do you think? 

Useful links: 

Find support for carers from Citizens Advice, Carers UK, Carers Trust and Age UK

Call the Carers UK helpline on 0808 808 7777 for advice about caring  

Find out about benefits and financial support for carers 

Read the Social Care support guide from the NHS

Read Mind’s advice on looking after your mental health whilst caring