A massive 5m people in the UK from the age of five and up provide unpaid care in the UK, with many struggling to make ends meet as they’re unable to work around their caring duties.


New data from the 2021 Census reveals that the proportion of people who provided 20 to 49 hours of unpaid care a week increased from 1.5% in 2011 to 1.9% in 2021. The number of those who provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week increased slightly from 2.7% in 2011 to 2.8% a decade on.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Caring for a loved one is a key reason why we are seeing older workers leaving the workforce. Trying to tempt the over 50s back into work is a priority for government with rumours of potential tax breaks being offered. However, the provision of more flexible working environments will be vital in helping people back.”

Financial support for carers

If you are a carer and can’t find work to fit around your responsibilities, it’s vital to claim any financial support you might be eligible for.

For example, you might be able to get £69.70 a week in Carer’s Allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits, such as Disability Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. You don’t have to live with, or be related to, the person you’re caring for to be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. For every week you claim Carer’s Allowance, you’ll get some National Insurance credits to help with gaps in your National Insurance record that have arisen because of your caring duties.

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You might alternatively be eligible for Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or need help with your living costs. If you qualify, again you’ll be credited with National Insurance contributions. You can find out which benefits you might be able to claim through charity Turn2us, which can assess your eligibility for benefits through its Turn2us benefits calculator. The site Entitledto.co.uk also has a free benefits calculator which you can use to see what you qualify for.

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If you care for someone for at least 20 hours a week but don’t get a Carer’s Allowance or Universal Credit, you may be able to claim a Carer’s Credit which can help fill these gaps. It’s important to claim this as your National Insurance record determines how much State Pension you receive, so if you don’t have a full record, you could end up with less than you expected when you retire.

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter said: “A Freedom of Information request found that in 2021 just 5,646 people claimed Carer’s Credits, which is lower than the figure pre-pandemic. In 2015, the Department for Work & Pensions estimated around 200,000 carers are eligible, with women making up a substantial proportion. It is expected this number has increased since 2015 so it is worth exploring if you think you might be eligible.


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“Unfortunately, many people fail to see themselves as carers and fail to apply for benefits provided by the government. Failing to do so can have a disastrous impact on someone’s financial wellbeing. For example, as many people begin being a carer later on in life they may need the Credits to get the full State Pension and failing to claim can mean they get less money in retirement.”