Employers lose as carers fail to reach their full potential

UK firms are losing out because millions of carers are under-achieving at work and are in poor health, a new report has revealed.

Research from charity Carers UK, launched at the Labour Party conference last week, shows that half of carers working more than 20 hours a week are stuck in low-grade positions. It also shows that carers are up to three times more likely than other employees to struggle with illness.

More than five million people provide unpaid care in England and Wales, and 1.5 million combine this with full-time employment. The report concludes that 90% are aged 30 or older, and are missing out on their “prime employment years”.

Carers UK chief executive, Imelda Redmond, said: “We face a demographic timebomb, with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. We have to start supporting working carers now, as they will be vital to our economic future.

“At the moment, those juggling work and care are paying a heavy penalty in terms of their own health and wellbeing, and businesses are losing out on their full potential and skills,” she added. “The government must address this issue as a matter of great urgency.

“There are also significant barriers in the benefits and tax system that prevent carers from working full-time or at all,” added Redmond.

Care services minister, Ivan Lewis, speaking at the launch of the report, said social care was at the heart of a civilised and successful society. But he offered no new solutions to the issue of carers in employment.

Personnel Today is supporting an employer-led campaign to introduce tax breaks for employees who have caring responsibilities.

Sign our petition to urge the government to include tax breaks for carers in its next comprehensive spending review, to be announced in Spring 2007.


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