A survey of more than 4,000 carers by Carers UK for Carers Rights Day today has found that almost 47% were being made ill by money worries.
Nearly half (45%) of carers said they were cutting back on essentials like food and heating to make ends meet, with nearly a third (31%) living on their overdraft.
The survey, which took place between September 2010 and July 2011, also found a very high percentage had cut back on holidays (78%) leisure activities (74%), buying clothes (70%) and going out with friends and family (74%).
Carers struggle to work and care, and an estimated one million have given up work or reduced their hours, losing an average of £11,000 a year, the report said.
Almost half of the carers who responded to the survey (47%) said they were suffering from anxiety and depression because of concern about finances.
The isolation and stress of caring can cause mental health problems but debt exacerbates this. Of the 4,250 carers surveyed, 76% said they had suffered mental health problems, and that figure rose to 85% when the carers had been in debt.
“These figures make shocking reading,” said Emily Holzhausen, director of policy for Carers UK. “There are an estimated 6.4 million people in the UK providing unpaid care and they are saving UK economy £119bn every year – that is more than the social care services and private providers combined. It is a scandal that, despite this contribution, carers end up sick with worry about how to make ends meet.”
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