Nearly half of NI carers 'in debt'

Published Tuesday, 04 February 2014
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Almost half of carers in Northern Ireland are in debt and struggle to pay household bills, new research has claimed.

Nearly half of NI carers 'in debt'
More than four in 10 carers (42%) were unable to afford utility bills. (© Getty)

Financial challenges are being endured by many of those who have been forced to give up or cut back on work to look after an older, disabled or seriously ill loved one.

This has been revealed in a year-long study by charity Carers Northern Ireland.

Spiralling costs of caring combined with cuts to support are being highlighted by the charity as causes of the hardship levels.

There are an estimated 214,000 carers in Northern Ireland.

This country's carers are being badly let down. Unless government acts to stop the cuts to support for carers there is the risk families will be pushed to breaking point.

Helen Ferguson, Carers Northern Ireland

The charity's Caring & Family Finances Inquiry found that many have accumulated unmanageable debt as they struggle to cope with loss of income, savings and benefits alongside rising everyday food, fuel and care related bills.

Charity director Helen Ferguson said carers not only believe they are not recognised or valued in society - but also feel victim of increasing public criticism for claiming their social security entitlements.

"Those caring, unpaid, for loved ones save society vast sums, but at huge personal cost - a cost this inquiry shows is pushing families to the brink," she said.

"Caring is often a dual blow, with household incomes hit by reduced earnings, and bills rising as a result of the extra costs of ill-health or disability.

"With an ageing population, more of us will care for loved ones - yet a blizzard of cuts to social care and benefits mean there is less and less support available. This is unacceptable and unsustainable."

The charity's research found

  • More than four in 10 carers (42%) were unable to afford utility bills
  • Almost half (46%) were in debt as a result of caring
  • One in seven adults in Northern Ireland said their work was negatively affected by caring
  • 11% of adults in Northern Ireland, 151,811 people, had given up work to care at some point
  • Almost half (45%) of working-age carers are in a household with no-one in paid work
  • 70% of carers in Northern Ireland are spending more than 10% of their income on fuel bills.
© UTV News
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3 Comments
Cared for person in Newtowabbey wrote (208 days ago):
My Carer read this and couldn't leave a comment. I will on their behalf, the job she does for me is "paid" by the goverment if you work it out it comes to the princely sum of £8.14 a day or cos she cares for me round the clock 33 pence an hour. Would you do that job? She does a lot for me and I couldn't live at home without her in put. Its an emotional roller coaster as my disability is unpredictable and debilitating. I could not be more grateful for her as I have no family but thats what God gave us best friends for. She said what she had to say would be un printable. So here is a calmed down cleaned up version of what I think... Thanks to Carers. Government your saving money by me and others like me being cared for at home STOP CUTTING THE BENEFITS FOR THOSE WHO DESERVE THEM!!!!
jean in Dungannon wrote (209 days ago):
Surely the people they care for are in receipt of other benefits. e.g. D.L.A. etc. This should help them out money wise.
david mcgregor in Newtownabbey wrote (209 days ago):
Carers have been taken for granted for years.they deserve financial recognition for the work they do. Its a full time jobs with no wages , holidays or sick. Slave labour!!!!!
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