There is a report in the Guardian today about how few young carers receive support from their local councils that they are entitled to. (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/27/young-carers-no-council-support-childrens-commissioner-england-study)
Of course the reasons for this are many-fold, councils are facing unprecedented cuts and also not everyone who is a carer is known to their local council – often people, adults or children, do not see themselves as a carer, they are merely (in their eyes) looking after a loved one.
A few years ago, I wrote a report calculating the social return of investment that a local authority was getting for the money spent on supporting carers in their area. I was only looking at adult carers in this particular piece of work and calculated that for every £1 that was spent on supporting carers, there was a benefit to the council, the NHS and the wider community, of over £15.
Another way of looking at this of course is that for every £1 cut from supporting carers will cost £15 – a no brainer you might think but not so for many councils unfortunately who still cut services due to the harsh cuts required.
One problem with this figure is that the council is paying out all the costs but only receiving some of the benefits and it is impossible to accurately split the benefits into council / NHS / Community which dilutes the benefits unfortunately. Plus even within a large organisation like a council, the department budget paying out may not be the one receiving the benefits so the potency of the investment is lost.
Carers in our society are essential – they save the state an immense amount, and do an unimaginable amount of work, freely and for free…..
Studies have shown that supporting carers saves (for both carer and cared for):
- GP visits
- Residential care home requirements
- Hospital stays… and much more.
Plus supporting (adult) carers means that they can hold down jobs and remain financially active which is important for self esteem.
Carers are largely invisible in our society but there are millions of people who care for a loved one, day in and day out. It is lonely, depressing, isolating work and often all the carer needs is to know that there is someone who cares about them, who is there to support them if they need a hand. And this is work that councils and local authorities around the country should be doing – and quite frankly at a rate of £1 invested to £15 benefits gained, they should be doing more not less!