Continually rising energy prices and impacts on wider costs mean unpaid carers are experiencing ever increasing levels of financial hardship. This hardship is having immediate effects on health, wellbeing, and financial security and could have long-lasting negative outcomes for North Lanarkshire’s carer population.
With a recession now predicted, financial conditions will further deteriorate. Carers and their families are facing increasingly dire scenarios. In this context, we believe carers are not facing a ‘cost-of-living crisis’ but a ‘cost-of-living emergency’ with far reaching consequences now and into the future.
Recent findings on impacts on unpaid carers
Recent reports from The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), Family Fund and Carers Scotland, all of which drew on engagement with unpaid carers, have highlighted the realities faced by carers in our current economic climate.
The ALLIANCE reported that:
- Carers have unavoidable energy costs due to requiring heating to maintain the health of the person, or people, they care for. Further unavoidable energy costs are often required to power assistive technology and mobility devices, and for keeping medication at safe temperatures.
- The current reduction of available social care services which, in turn, prevent carers from being able to work or increase earnings as they are required to provide care themselves is having an impact on incomes.
- These factors follow the impacts of long-term low incomes for carers prior to the onset of increased financial pressures, an area that requires long term policy change.
Family Fund reported that:
- Over 50% of families caring for a disabled child said adults in the household were cutting back on meals to ensure children can eat.
- 92% of families caring for a disabled child are unable to meet household bills, with energy bills being the most difficult cost to meet.
- 83% of families caring for a disabled child are already in debt, and 50% say they will need to enter further into debt in next 6 months.
Carers Scotland reported that:
- Up to 84% of carers said the cost-of-living situation is having a negative impact on their mental and physical health.
- 40% of carers in receipt of Carers Allowance said they are struggling to make ends meet.
- Carers gave examples of the impacts on their lives of the current financial situation. They reported selling valued personal items, being pushed into bankruptcy and being made homeless because of unmanageable financial pressures.
Take our cost-of-living surveys
Help us represent you and campaign on your behalf to support positive change at a local level for unpaid carers in North Lanarkshire.
If you are an unpaid carer, take our short carers survey: Cost-of-Living Carers Survey
If you are a member of a community and voluntary sector/third sector organisation operating in North Lanarkshire that engages with carers, take our short survey: Cost-of-Living Community Teams Survey
Campaign aim: Gathering local data to drive local solutions
To date there has been no data gathered specific to North Lanarkshire to understand the impact of current costs of living on unpaid carers. NLCT will gather and analyse data from carers as well as community and voluntary sector teams supporting carers in our communities. This will capture the realities of the situation, as well as presenting findings on the support carers and community-based services believe would best work in practice to relieve immediate financial pressures.
Data analysis will shape robust recommendations on what can be done at a local government level to help prevent unpaid carers and their families experiencing the harshest outcomes this winter, including being pushed into poverty.
Gathering local data to drive local solutions takes cognisance of the existing strengths of cross-sector partnership working in North Lanarkshire. By exploring solutions that tap into these strengths across North Lanarkshire Council, Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, the community and voluntary sector, locality structures and associated mechanisms, we aim to put forward recommendations for high impact, low barrier measures to achieve immediate positive impact.
Local solutions for carers, local solutions for communities
With an estimated up to 60,000 unpaid carers expected to be confirmed as residing in North Lanarkshire at the next census return, negative financial impacts on carers and their families equates to negative outcomes for our wider communities. The ripple effects will be felt across health and wellbeing, with impacts on local government policy aims for the coming years.
Unpaid carers and their families form a valued part of our rich community ecosystem. It is crucial that we attend urgently to the negative outcomes already being felt due to the current financial landscape. By ensuring we collectively support this existing low-income population of unpaid carers who provide care services across our local authority area, the positive actions taken will benefit our wider communities across all of North Lanarkshire.