Value of unpaid carers in England and Wales equal to NHS multi billion-pound budget, according to research | UK News

The value of unpaid care in England and Wales is almost equivalent to a second NHS, according to a new research estimate.

Unpaid carers save the government £162bn per year in the two nations, research by charity, Carers UK and the University of Sheffield has found.

They compared this to an estimated £164bn in funding for the NHS in 2020-21.

The figures show that within a decade, the economic value to the country of unpaid carers has increased by 29% – a hefty saving to the health care budget.

In comparison, the cost of replacement care – paid carers – was valued at £25 per hour in 2021 and £18 per hour in 2011.

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It comes as a result of fewer carers providing more hours of care, which was called “deeply concerning” by Helen Walker, Carers UK chief executive.

“The ever-declining availability of social care means there is shrinking support for families to pull on – and they are left without a choice but to put other areas of their life on hold and provide more care,” she said.

“Having to care round the clock for a loved one has significant implications for people’s ability to stay in paid work, remain financially resilient and maintain their health.”

She called on the government to create a funded national carers’ strategy, that supports those on low incomes.

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Carers struggle amid staff shortage

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We all owe unpaid carers a huge amount of gratitude for the time and care they give their friends and family.”

They said they have set out a social care reform plan – Next Steps to Put People at the Heart of Care – which aims to deliver £700m in funding over the next two years – including up to an additional £25m for unpaid carers.

“We are finalising plans for how we deliver the funding for unpaid carers committed in the People at the Heart of Care Next Steps plan, and will provide an update in due course,” they said.