Adults with caring responsibilities

Adults with caring responsibilities

National data from the 2011 Census:

  • The 2011 Census figures for the UK show an 11% rise in the number of carers since the last Census in 2001 - increasing by over 620,000 to 6.5 million in just 10 years.
  • Carers UK estimates that we will see a 40% rise in the number of carers needed by 2037 – an extra 2.6 million carers, meaning the carer population in the UK will reach 9 million. The care they provide is worth an estimated £119bn per year.
  • Every year over 2.1 million adults become carers and almost as many people find that their caring responsibilities come to an end. 3 in 5 people will be carers at some point in their lives (Carers UK 2014).
  • About 3.4 million (58%) of carers are women and 42% are male.
  • One in five people aged 50-64 are carers, which equates to over 2 million people in this age bracket.
  • Almost 1.3 million people aged 65 or older are carers and the number of carers over the age of 65 is increasing more rapidly than the general carer population. Whilst the total number of carers has risen by 11% since 2001, the number of older carers rose by 35%.
  • Of the estimated 662,000 carers who combine part-time work with caring, 89% are female and women are more likely to give up work in order to care. (equality and human rights commission 2010).
  • A demographic group, sometimes referred to as the 'sandwich generation', typically care for older or disabled parents as well as their own young children. The peak age for such dual-caring is 40-44 for women, and 45-49 for men. Women are more likely to be dual-carers than men.
  • The 2011 Census showed that there were just under 600,000 Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) carers in England. 2011 data indicates that a smaller proportion of the BAME population provides care than the white British population. However the BAME population is much younger and therefore less likely to have older parents or other relatives needing care.

Across all carers:

  • 93% said they provide practical help such as preparing meals, doing laundry or shopping
  • 87% provide emotional support, motivation or keeping an eye on someone either in person or by phone
  • 85% said they arranged or co-ordinated care services or medical appointments
  • 83% said they manage paperwork or financial matters for the person they care for
  • 71% of carers provide personal care like help with washing, dressing, eating or using the toilet
  • 57% carers were helping the person they care for with their mobility – getting in and out of bed, moving around or getting out of the house

According to an NHS information centre survey:

  • most carers (40%) care for their parents or parents-in-law
  • over a quarter (26%) care for their spouse or partner
  • people caring for disabled children under 18 account for 8% of carers and 5% of carers are looking after adult children
  • a further 4% care for their grandparents and 7% care for another relative
  • one in ten carers (9%) care for a friend or neighbour
  • most carers care for just one person (83%), but 14% care for two people and 3% are caring for at least three people
  • 58% of carers look after someone with a physical disability
  • 20% look after someone with a sensory impairment
  • 13% care for someone with a mental health problem
  • 10% care for someone with dementia
Further information can be found in this policy briefing from Carers UK: facts about carers 2014.

Carers UK has produced extensive research on issues affecting carers. Research reports can be accessed via the following link: