Millions leaving work to care for family members

Millions of UK adults are leaving employment or reducing working hours to care for an elderly, disabled or seriously ill family member, according to research from Carers UK and business forum Employers for Carers.

It found 2.3 million adults have given up work to become carers, while three million have reduced their working hours.

More than a fifth (22 per cent) believed their work has been negatively impacted as a result of caring. Those aged between 45 and 55 were impacted the most, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) reporting that caring had caused their work to suffer.

The result is a £5.3 billion cost to the UK economy in lost tax revenues and additional benefit payments.

Carers UK and Employers for Carers said the impact of giving up work or cutting working hours was seriously impacting families; bringing financial hardship, debt and long-term damage to carers' careers and pensions. They are calling for more support for people to juggle caring and work.

Employers for Carers' chairman Ian Peters said supporting caring staff made good business sense.

"Supporting carers in our workforces is not just about being a good employer; it is good for business - improving productivity and reducing workplace stress, reducing staff turnover and recruitment costs, and enabling us to retain the talent and experience of staff who we would otherwise lose."

"However, these findings highlight that much more needs to be done to make supporting colleagues who juggle work and care part of normal workplace practice, and ensure that families can access the advice, support and services they need to enable them to combine work and home life."

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK said: "As with childcare a generation ago, employers can play a critical role in shifting how we as a society support people with family responsibilities."

"But support from employers can only go so far, and families need to be able to access reliable, good quality and affordable care and support services to enable them to juggle work and care. Without urgent action from Government to ensure families can access this support, millions more will see their careers and earnings suffer - with long-term personal costs to families and significant costs to business and the UK economy."