UNPAID care for loved ones in Coventry by family members would otherwise cost a staggering £5billion a year, says a carers’ charity.
The Coventry-based Carers Trust Heart of England said it was applying figures from a new report published today by Carers UK and the University of Sheffield.
It shows the nearly 7 million UK family carers for the ill, disabled or elderly is worth £132 billion a year; almost the same as the amount spent on the NHS.
The figure has almost doubled since 2001, say researchers, because of a rise in the hours carers provide, and the cost of replacement care.
Pauline Dye, head of information at Advice and Support Services at Carers Trust Heart of England said: “This report indicates that the value of the care provided by the 32,000 family carers in Coventry amounts to about £500,000,000 – a staggering voluntary contribution.
“If family carers stopped doing what they do, the whole health and social care system would collapse.
“The report also shows that more people are caring for longer, which demonstrates an increased need for them to be supported if they are to be able to continue taking on this role without seriously disadvantaging themselves.
“Family carers are increasingly being required to fill the gap as statutory service budgets are squeezed.
“Although they are happy to do this out of love or a sense of duty, it is not easy.
“More carers will break down if support is not available for them.
“Almost everyone will take on a caring role at some time in their lives and there is an overwhelming moral and economic argument for support to be available when this happens.”
The report outlines a number of key recommendations from Carers UK, which include:
* Urgently address the chronic underfunding of the social care system
* Improve financial support for carers
* Promote a carer-friendly NHS
* Introduce a right to paid care leave
Carers Trust Heart of England was formed by the merger of Coventry Carers’ Centre and Crossroads Care – the two main providers of support services for family carers in Coventry since 1974.
It estimates there are 32,000 family carers in Coventry – 1 in 10 of the population, with one in eight people combining caring with work.