Skip to main content

Carers Week 2023: crunching the numbers...

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, Carers, Events
Elderly man and daughter playinc chess
"Caring, unpaid, for older, disabled or chronically ill relatives or friends is something most of us will experience in our lives." [Image created by] make the case for support.

New research released for this year’s  Carers Week reveals we need to think and plan differently for people with unpaid caring responsibilities.

The YouGov research, using a poll of 4,000 adults across the UK, found 50 percent of the population has had some sort of experience of providing unpaid care, either now (20 percent of the population) or in the past (30 percent). Of these people, a staggering 73 percent had not identified as unpaid carers, translating to a staggering 19 million people.

Caring, unpaid, for older, disabled or chronically ill relatives or friends is something most of us will experience in our lives. In fact, all of us has a two in three chance of doing so.

Women are far more likely to care earlier and have a 50:50 chance of doing so by the time they are 46, men have the same likelihood by the time they are 57 – 11 years later.

According to research by the University of Sheffield based on the Census 2021 findings, it is estimated the value of unpaid care is equivalent to a second NHS – £152 billion in England alone.

We asked how long it took people to identify as a carer and anything they missed out on as a result of delay. A staggering 46 percent felt they had missed out financially providing unpaid care, 35 percent on practical support and 23 percent on workplace adjustments.

It’s clear we need greater efforts and mechanisms to systematically identify unpaid carers earlier in their journey and make sure they are connected to support, information and advice.

Carers Week logoIdentifying carers starts at home

It turns out family and friends are best at helping to identify people as unpaid carers – so there’s a lot we can all do within our own personal networks and connections. 22 percent said health professionals had identified them. For those in paid work, 12 percent said they were identified by their employer. And 14 percent had identified themselves as carers online.

We asked all those with past and present experience of unpaid care what negative impacts they associate with this period of their lives. One third said it had impacted on their health – a staggering 8 million people. Of those in work, nearly one in five said caring had impacted negatively on their ability to work and one in seven (14 percent) said it had affected their financial security. Carers’ support needs a whole population approach.

Even if someone doesn’t want to be labelled as an unpaid carer, identifying them and ensuring they are supported remains critical.

If you are thinking about what you can do, there’s no shortage of ideas and options. Employers can take the opportunity to talk about unpaid caring with employees and a lot are doing just that during Carers Week. Including a simple question on a staff survey can make all the difference to understanding your colleagues and staff, which we know to be true from our 230 strong Employers for Carers forum.

Most of us will care at some point in our lives. For some it will be fleeting and short. For others, it will be long term and very significant over time. None of us can predict when, how or what will happen, but we need society and systems around us to make sure we have the best support available. That’s why you could make a difference for Carers Week this year by making saying I Care and doing something practical to support unpaid carers.

Ideas for action in Carers Week and beyond

The views expressed in this blog are those of Emily Holzhausen OBE and Carers UK.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Ms A Behan posted on

    It is quite the disgrace that a government in the Uk in 2023 feels the need to continuously boast how much unpaid carers are saving the country by removing all options from people other than the one to care for their relatives for nothing in 2023. Basically the boast is about utilizing and using mainly women and women with a disability to work for nothing or next to nothing. We are not even viewed as having the legal right to own our time and be able to choose what we do with it!! A shameful disgrace in itself and definitely nothing to boast about unless you are living in a regime that openly denies women their rights !! The government seems to think it has the right to tell all of us daft hapless women what we should be doing with our time,finances and every other aspects of our lives to be recorded as well by everyone we come into contact with as if we have no legal rights and should not be asked if this is okay even !! In reality it is just another way of saying it is okay to utilise and use these women for as much unpaid work as you like as while we can we might as well and don't give them the option of saying No. In reality if we have the audacity to say No it is ignored and we are recorded as being troublemakers and argumentative !! So even the right to say NO as a woman is removed In the UK !! Yet this government likes to boast about how forward thinking they are regarding disability but women like myself cannot even get through a doorway without it causing extra physical pain !! The justification for this is that it allows everyone else in the Uk to pay less taxation than they normally would have to so I guess this justifies the reason for taking a whole group of people in the same country and using them as extremely cheap or free labour.I am currently working 168 hrs a week,365 days a week for over 12 years now with no breaks,no training, no nothing for a few pence an hour expected to take on the role of a Nurse,Doctor,pharmacist,medication giver, carer, accountant ,record keeper,driver, transport person, day staff,evening staff, bank holiday staff, holiday staff, night staff,weekend staff,cleaner,housekeeper,gardner etc then be happy to hand everything over if I cannot care during the last six months of life and be prepared to be homeless, jobless,penniless in my own retirement like so many others. In any other employment it would be deemed unsafe and illegal but as the British Government refuses to accept we are employees we are also denied these rights ie the same rights any other employee in the Uk is given. In a country like the Uk this should be seen as an abuse of these peoples human rights which it is and a shameful act by one of the wealthiest governments in the world. I also worked in care long hours low pay but we had standards and people were treated with respect. Helping to develop the first independence unit in the Uk with no extra funding for teenagers leaving care and working with the first couple with learning difficulties to establish their independent living in the local community in the Uk, helping to close down hospitals and enabling people stuck in these hospitals to live in the community it is shameful and disgraceful to see the NHS opening up these hospitals and dumping people in them once again because they place no value on these peoples lives.This is something I never thought would be happening in my lifetime!! As an unpaid carers now to four relatives with just one left and working full time when I could, now a woman with a disability caused by an illegal driver and NHS medical negligence it is even more disgraceful that any government let alone one in the Uk feels the need to boast about this track record.People do not realise they need these services more than the extra 50p in their pockets then they are shocked and horrified at what they find when they do!! Taking away people's homes to pay for care is just wrong,£7,000.00 a week for a bed,a couple of showers and a bit of food is just wrong all so wealthy shareholders can make even bigger profits and the government do not have to pay any money towards this, going through the value of a persons savings and home taken a lifetime to earn in a few years or months is just wrong and immoral because that is what is happening!! If this is your parent you are caring for your income is calculated as household income and if it isn't you are still expected to make up the short fall !! even though this is not your husband,partner,wife or child!! The wrong in this is that people of my generation are been expected to do what no generation in this country has been expected to do for many generations without any notice,training ,proper working conditions,proper pay and without first gaining our consent to treat us so badly, the task is just dumper on us with lost so emotional blackmail ie a form of coercive control that is supposed to be illegal in this country, we are losing our lives to this with no end in sight.We simply cannot be daughters or sons, we are seen as a cheap/free commodity to be used so the government does not have to pay for this. I guess other countries need the money more. So a council is allowed to take everything and every incoming penny off a person to pay for their care home bed. In My Fathers case that was well over a thousand pounds per month and he was only left with £20.00 a month for everything else. The council has a maximum they will spend on that bed and I think now people may be allowed to keep £250.00 not sure about this, I read recently it is £650.00 for some councils that left an excess of £350.00 the council took to pay for that bed, the council keeps the remaining £350.00 a month ??Why or how or where does this money go?? The Bed actually cost eg £1,000.00 a month but only £650.00 is paid by the council.The family are left to pay the missing £350.00 plus any add ons like haircuts,toe nail cuts,finger nail cuts, outings,bedding,toiletries and clothing that goes missing several times a day,tv radio, tv license,private nursing and prescriptions, creams etc,apple squash as the home refuses to provide it, We were never actually able to find out the exact cost of the bed as it was kept from us. The person gets a bed, a room with a shower, three showers a week, gets washed and dressed and some food for all that money!! They cannot expect a comfy chair or a wheelchair if it goes against the homes rules as these take up too much space. I am just seeing people ripped off and nothing to boast about this system and a lot of fraud going on and a lot of lies and appalling treatment going on that this government refuses to ever look into. As you are having difficulty finding us unpaid carers as we are so hidden by design just set up an enquiry that members of the public can contact because as unpaid carers we have no access to anything, we have no contact with anyone except MP's who just dismiss us as annoying, set it up so we can contact government then you will finds us all the poor lost women who have just lost their way !!most easily and we will tell you the truth of what is going on with your terrible policies and what we need, make it cross bench too as you are all as bad as each other on this. I could write several books on it and who knows maybe one day I will.

  2. Comment by Emma posted on

    If I new that been a unpaid, unsupported Carer was going to be like this I would off let my Child suffer with her learning disabilities. The whole process is exhausting trying to get help. As for claiming Carers Allowance it is not worth the hassle, as you end up with Overpayments on Universal Credit due to DLA not processing Renewals on time, that leaves you in utter hardship that you feel like giving up. I am so angry, at all involved, and at the top of the list is a useless Government on their £300 per day. I would like to see every MP have their wages stopped for 2 months and then survive on a suicidal Universal Credit payment for those 2 months you would all be shocked that this is how human people are been treated for been a full time unpaid carer. And as for the unpaid one week carer bill, that is not good enough, carers carry the load from the system saving you billions.