“High quality and affordable” care services are needed to stop the millions of carers forced to quit work to look after older and disabled loved-ones, a charity has warned.
Carers UK said more than 600 people a day left their jobs in the last two years alone, with 2.3m leaving employment since 2013 - a 12 per cent increase.
The charity is calling on the Government to give better employment rights to carers, including five to 10 days paid care leave, and to instil better care services into its much-delayed Social Care Green Paper, which the Department for Health and Social Care told the Yorkshire Post would be published “shortly”.
The research also revealed that more people are caring than previously thought, with almost 5m workers now juggling their paid job with caring – a “dramatic” rise compared with census data from 2011 of 3m.
Carers UK said the findings emphasise the need for employers to support the rapidly increasing number of staff with caring responsibilities to stay in the workforce.
Chief executive of Carers UK, Helen Walker, urged the Government to improve rights for people juggling work and care.
She said: “Better workplace support is becoming an increasingly important issue, with a growing need for employers to improve flexibility and, with an ageing population, support people to keep working for longer, contributing to better productivity.
“With 15 per cent of the population now working and caring, there is a real social and economic imperative for UK businesses to adopt carer friendly workplaces.”
“Adequate care and support services are also a key condition for many people’s employment so it’s more important than ever that the Government’s forthcoming social care proposals deliver the high quality and affordable care services we need now and in the future.”
Melanie Pearson from Sheffield has been caring for her brother, who has Huntingdon’s Disease, for almost two years. Coordinating his care, which includes carers who visit four times a day, plus juggling medical appointments and “endless admin” has left her forced to cut down her hours as a dementia support worker.
Ms Pearson, 59, said she was also constrained by the “poverty cap” of the Carers Allowance she receives, which limits the amount of work she can do.
“I would love to work more but with everything I have to juggle with my brother’s illness, it would be impossible,” she said. “I am lucky that I have understanding employers who allow me to work flexibly, because fitting everything in to traditional nine to five working hours would couldn’t be done. I joke that if I did all this in the real world, I’d be on a six figure salary with a team of staff. More support is needed.”
A Government spokesperson said it was determined to support carers to stay in or find employment including through our Carers Action Plan, and the forthcoming green paper will look at “long-term sustainable solutions for the social care system, including measures to support carers”.