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Full-time carers under financial strain

Thousands of people across NI are full-time carers for their loved ones.

Full-time carers in Northern Ireland say the rising cost of living and lack of government support are putting them under severe financial strain.

Thursday, 14 February 2013
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Ten years ago Richard Burnside left his job in Shorts to care for his wife Susan, who has MS. Now his income of £58 a week works out at less than £2 an hour.

"There's no redundancies no nothing," he told UTV. "Nobody realises the financial hardship carers are put under.

"The whole aspect of caring, not only the financial aspect but from the social aspect, your circle of friends aren't there anymore because you can't do the things that you used to do."

Richard and Susan are two of over 200,000 people in Northern Ireland in the same position.

Margaret Field also gave up her job to become a full-time carer. She looks after her son Paul, 20, who is autistic and needs constant care.

When Paul left school it was also the end of some of the benefits that the Field family had come to depend on.

"We were down about £600 a month on our income and that was an awful shock to the system.

"We just about manage and you know that's all I can say we just about manage to get by," said Mrs Field.

A survey by Carers UK has revealed that 8 in 10 of us are concerned about the financial impact of care.

"When people were confronted with the level of benefits for example that carers have got they were horrified really and they couldn't begin to image how they would cope," said Helen Ferguson from Carers NI.

Mr Burnside is calling for the carers income to be increased, as Carers UK is working to establish the true cost of caring for relatives.