Senior woman with their caregiver at home

The Cost of Caring

It can be a real struggle caring for a loved one, but few people realise just how hard it can hit your pocket. Quids in! investigates…

It’s estimated that carers save the Government a whopping £87 billion each year. Yet by choosing to look after their sick or disabled loved ones, many face a life of struggling to make ends meet, with no time to earn extra cash. One man who found out just how hard life can be as a carer is Don Jones. Don, who gave up his job to look after his sister, quickly found himself strapped for cash:

I am a victim of the system because I simply didn’t understand how the system worked and no-one explains it

“Within months of caring for Sheila I realised I had no option but to give up work. I lost out on my pension and I used all my savings, just so I could keep Sheila at home. “In a way I am a victim of the system because I simply didn’t understand how the system worked. And of course no-one explains it to you. So I paid a huge financial penalty just for caring.”

Out of options
A lack of job openings is a major worry for many carers. Vicky became a carer overnight when her son was born with cerebral palsy. After spending 25 years looking after him she found the door to work was closed when she tried to get a full-time job. “When my eldest son Paul went to a residential college and all my benefits stopped, I had to try to find full-time employment. I had no paid work experience to put on a CV and despite 25 years of caring, no-one was willing to give me a chance.”

Imelda Redmond of Carers UK says: “Caring can take a massive toll on a carer’s finances because of having to give up work or go part-time. To make matters worse, they also face all the added costs that come with caring.”

The debt of caring
Carers often have no idea about all the benefits they can get. Even though a shocking one in five carers are in debt, many miss out on extra cash simply because they don’t know they can claim. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Alex Fox of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, says:

“Lots of people feel they have to give up work when faced with a caring role. But if they get advice from their local carers centre, they may not have to.” Alex adds: “Most carers don’t get the support or recognition they deserve. Many only ask for help when they are at breaking point, and the huge range of benefits that are on offer to carers can be very confusing. It’s essential that you get the help of an expert.”

And that’s just what Kathryn and Douglas did. “We had no idea that we could claim benefits until we popped in to see Tracy at Age Concern‚” said Douglas. “The extra money has made a big difference to our lives,” explained Kathryn. “Douglas now gets the proper care he needs with me at home.”

So, if you’re faced with life as a full-time carer, remember that you could be entitled to more cash, and there is help and advice out there for you.

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