One-fifth of parent carers unable to stay in work

Contact reveals difficulties that parent carers face in Caring More Than Most report.

The research, based on half a million households who have a disabled child in the UK, found:
  • One-quarter of UK parents of disabled children provide 100 hours of care a week.
  • 1 in 5 parent carers leave paid employment because they are unable to stay in work and maintain their caring responsibilities.
  • Parent carers are more likely to say the care they provide has affected their health with nearly a third (31%) saying that it had made them depressed.
  • Parent carers are more likely to have financial difficulties compared to other carers (36% compared with 21%).
The 100 hours is the equivalent of working three full-time jobs simultaneously and without any of the usual benefits like regular or sick pay, holidays or a pension, says Contact. It explained that there are significant disadvantages faced in all key aspects of life. One particular challenge is respite care centres for disabled children being closed or threatened with closure up and down the country. Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact, said: "This report lays bare the significant disadvantage families with disabled children face in all key aspects of life – health, employment, economic situation and housing. “Providing 100 hours of care a week – often emotional and stressful, sometimes physical and backbreaking – allows no time for work, social opportunities and leads to poor health. "The simple reason so many families are providing this level of care is down to a shameful lack of support. It is utterly unforgivable that some of those families are now faced with the small amount of support they do receive, being reduced or taken away. "The value of respite care centres and other short breaks services is clear – as well as being nothing short of a lifeline for many families, they also save the state tens of millions of pounds by avoiding crisis intervention. "That's why together with 50 other charities as the Disabled Children's Partnership (DCP), we are calling on the government to act now to stop the never ending cycle of disadvantage for families." The report was launched on BBC Radio 5 Live – you can read the executive summary here. It was conducted with the University of Leeds and analyses the country's largest available datasets, including the census. Respite centres closing or earmarked for closure include Nascot Lawn respite centre in Watford, the Beeches in Surrey and Kentish Road in Southampton. Find out more about the Disabled Children's Partnership.
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