Welsh charity calls for more support to help unpaid carers

Carers Trust Wales says additional financial support will reduce demand for acute care in the future

Carers Trust Wales is calling for more support from local authorities and the Welsh Government to help unpaid carers struggling with the amount of hours they have to work, especially after the pandemic.

New Census data released by the Office of National Statistics shows that four of the five local authorities with the highest proportion of unpaid carers working over fifty hours a week are in South East Wales.

Neath Port Talbot, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil all have at least 4.3% of their population caring for people at least 50 hours per week.

The data also show that a larger proportion of people provided unpaid care in Wales than in England, with 3.6% of people providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week in Wales compared to 2.7% in England. This means 107,000 people are in the highest category for providing care each week.

Dr Catrin Edwards, Head of External Affairs for Carers Trust Wales, says that “while there are fewer carers across Wales than the last census, the carers that we do have are caring at a greater intensity and a greater number of hours.”

She says “there is likely a greater number of carers requiring more intensive support.”

“It’s vital we invest in preventative support for unpaid carers. Unpaid carers keep that person with care needs… away from our hospitals and acute social care providers. If we don’t invest in unpaid care, further down the line it will be our paid health and social care system that will pick up that care support”

She highlighted several areas that carers want greater help with, including more breaks, financial aid and support for the person they are caring for.

The Welsh Government are already investing £9 million into a Short Breaks Scheme to help ease the burden on unpaid carers, and say that their “£4.5m Carers Support Fund has also helped thousands of carers access financial support and services.”

They have also provided a one-off payment of £500 to unpaid carers last year to recognise the “pivotal role” they played during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

However, whilst Carers Trust Wales welcomes the range of support from the Government, they want to see them explore additional financial support for carers who need it it most.

“Without that additional £500 coming into the pockets of careers in the greatest need, those on Carers Allowance, many carers will see a difference between their finances this year and last year.”