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Almost a third of people who are caring simultaneously for young children and older family members struggle to cover basic living costs; and over one in five (22%) are in debt and find it difficult to cope financially, according to a new study by the Money Advice Service.
The findings, which are published to coincide with Carers Week, reveal that 10% of the UK adult population (4.7m people) are currently ‘Sandwich Carers’, a number which looks set to rise, with the elderly living longer and costs of care increasing, and rising tuition fees and house prices keeping kids at home for longer.
The report found half of the carers (48%) earn less than £31,200 a year, and jobs and earnings are being impacted as a result. A quarter (25%) of the carers have had to reduce their working hours, and a further quarter (25%) have had to give up work altogether, really tightening the squeeze on their finances.
Half (50%) of carers who provide financial support estimate that they spend up to £10,400 per year on the one or more generations that they care for; 37% of them say they’ve had to cut-back on day-to-day spending; whilst a third (29%) have dipped into their savings, and 16% have turned to credit cards or their overdrafts to support themselves financially.
Over half (53%) of the carers say they find themselves generally worse off since caring; one in five (22%) of them are in debt and finding it difficult to cope financially; and a third (32%) admit they’re struggling to cover basic living costs.
Over a third of Sandwich Carers (35%) have been providing sandwich care for over five years; they spend on average just under 30 hours a week caring for children under the age of 16, plus a further 18 hours caring for parents and other elderly relatives.
Over half say having plans in place to help them manage the financial impact and costs involved would have helped their situation. Respondents also identified a clear advice gap, with confusion over where to turn to for help and few getting the support they need, for example: over two-thirds (70%) say they would benefit from access to advice and support.
Caroline Rookes, CEO of the Money Advice Service, said: “This research highlights the real financial strain which Sandwich Carers are under, and how people with a dual- caring role face a multitude of pressures, which vary from family to family. Money is clearly only part of the picture, but it’s a major factor affecting carers’ lives and we know millions are struggling to cope.
“There is no single solution for all carers because every circumstance is different, but we have a host of free support, from everyday budgeting to funding your own long-term care. We want to reassure carers they’re not alone, we’re here to help. Dual-carers can turn to us for practical and impartial advice. We realise clear head space and spare time is precious for them, but do urge them to get in touch so we can offer some peace of mind over their money worries as quickly as possible.”