Four in ten unpaid carers in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet amid the cost of living crisis, a survey has found.
Carers Scotland said the report “paints a bleak picture for Scotland’s 800,000 unpaid carers”.
The report, commissioned by the organisation, surveyed over 1,770 unpaid carers who are in receipt of the Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for unpaid carers.
It found rising prices and the cost of living crisis meant 41% of those surveyed were forced to cut their expenses “to the bone” and were falling into debt as a result.
The number of unpaid carers in Scotland cutting back on essentials has more than doubled since 2021, the survey found, with 44% cutting back on food and heating.
One in six carers on benefits said they had been forced to visit food banks and struggled to meet rent or mortgage payments.
As a result, many carers said they feared losing their home.
Carers Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to provide hardship funding this winter to protect carers from poverty, as well as hastening the introduction of the Carer Support Payment, which will replace Carer’s Allowance in Scotland.
The charity said this would allow carers in full time education to receive the benefit for the first time.
Richard Meade, director of Carers Scotland said: “This year’s State of Caring lays bare the devastating financial impact of caring in a cost-of-living crisis on Scotland’s 800,000 unpaid carers.
“Carers have told us about the significant poverty they experience, with rising costs, limited incomes, and the impossible choices they face just to make ends meet.
“Substantial numbers of unpaid carers are floundering and can see no end to the current financial storm. Governments and public authorities must act now, not just to prevent further crisis, but to give unpaid carers any hope of a brighter future.”
Social care minister Maree Todd told STV News: “One of the challenges we face is that a lot of people firstly don’t recognise that they are carers themselves. And secondly, aren’t able to navigate this sort of network of supports that are available.
“So, we are trying really hard to make that simpler and easier for them and to support them to access the support that they’re entitled to. We need them to have that support.
“We’ve put in extra funding into the winter fuel payment, for example. We tripled it. We’ve put in funding for disabled children’s fuel support. We do have, and are putting our money where are mouth is.
“We still have a commitment in this term of Parliament to remove the costs for personal care that will make a big difference to many of these carers. So we’re working on that really into the nitty gritty with COSLA.”
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