Who runs the world?
Unpaid carers in the UK save the government £132 billion a year – close to the cost of a second NHS. Probably to no surprise, most of these carers are female. With the sandwich generation struggling to juggle work, childcare and care for their elderly parents, we’ll take a look at how this responsibility impacts women in the UK.
A financial conundrum
Women are more likely to be carers than men and even though they are notoriously paid less on average, often the responsibility of care means they have to reduce their working hours or even give up work completely. Frequently, their only financial support is the weekly carers allowance; which is worth a maximum of £64.60 a week; though that’s only if you don’t earn over £120 a week and do over 35 hours of caring. Meaning that even if you do the minimum amount of hours caring and receive the maximum benefit, you’d still be earning less than £2 an hour – far below the minimum wage. Yet, there are still 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK, supporting family members and loved ones through illness and old age.
Stuck in the middle
As the sandwich generation reaches middle age, women face a 50:50 chance of providing care. Comparatively, men have the same chance by the time they are 75 years old. Right now, 1 in 4 women aged 45-64 have caring responsibilities for older or disabled loved ones and these women are more than twice as likely as other carers to have reduced working hours. In addition to caring for ageing loved ones, these women often still have childcare responsibilities – juggling all of this with work. If you’re feeling stuck in the middle, then there are numerous helpful articles available on the internet to support you. Try HealthyWomen.org, Marketwatch.com or The Telegraph.
You are not alone
When you’re a full-time carer, you can often feel isolated and your needs end up pushed aside. Reach out to other family members and friends and ensure that you’re wellbeing doesn’t suffer as a result of your caring.
- For help with finances, make sure you receive what you’re entitled to by using The Carers Trust’s benefits calculator.
- Consider respite care for your loved one – for more information, read our What is Respite Care? blog post.
- If you need to vent or just speak to someone, then visit Carers UK and check out their helpful, supportive forum.
It’s hard to care for someone you love, particularly if their health is deteriorating. Don’t forget that there are over 65 million other people in a similar situation, stay strong, stick together and know that you are not alone.