Heléna Herklots is Chief Executive of Carers UK, which works to improve the lives of carers. Across the UK today there are 6.5 million people caring for relatives or friends who are older, seriously ill or disabled; half of these carers also juggling full or part time employment. A key part of Heléna’s role is to ensure that the needs of carers are brought to the attention of policy-makers, the statutory, private and voluntary sectors, the media and the general public.
On 13th February 2015 the UK Government announced £1.6m of funding for pilot schemes that will look at how technology and support can help carers combine work with caring responsibilities, a recommendation of an Employers for Carers, Carers UK and Government report on how to better support carers to remain in work.
Carers UK welcomes help for people juggling work and caring for older or disabled relatives
We are delighted that Government is investing £1.6 million in launching these pilot schemes to explore how technology and support into and around employment could help people juggling work and caring for older or disabled relatives. It’s shocking that over 2 million people have given up work to care according to Carers UK’s research, either because they did not receive support in the workplace or because the right kinds of care and support were not there.
This is a crucial issue for women in particular, who are more likely to give up work or cut down their hours to care. Research by Carers UK and YouGov found that women aged 45-54 were more than twice as likely as other carers to have reduced working hours as a result of caring responsibilities.
Urgent need to put in place better support for carers in the workplace – £3.5bn cost to UK businesses at present
With the carer population expected to grow to 9 million by 2037 juggling care with work is set to become an everyday issue for more and more of us. There is an urgent need to put in place better support for carers in the workplace – without it millions more will fall out of work, with damaging consequences for their finances, health and well-being. Business too will suffer – Carers UK has estimated that the current impact of staff turnover, absenteeism and stress as a result of juggling work with caring is already costing UK businesses over £3.5 billion every year.
Simply a strong economic case for supporting carers better
Our Employers for Carers forum, comprising over 80 private and public sector employers across all major sectors, has been playing a leading role in sharing their experiences to get this initiative off the ground. Employers within the forum, chaired by Ian Peters, Managing Director of British Gas, are well aware of the impact of demographic change on their workforce, combined with global and domestic competitive issues – they argue that there is simply a strong economic case for supporting carers better.
Download the Employers for Carers, Carers UK and Government report on how to better support working carers.