Unpaid carers in Wales

Carers Wales has published its annual ‘Track the Act’ report (for the year to April 2019) based on a survey of 562 carers (from every part of Wales) plus Freedom Information Requests to each of Wales’ 22 local authorities.   Carers Wales is to be congratulated once more – for providing an independent analysis as to the state of social care in Wales.

The report notes that there are 370,000 carers in Wales who provide, unpaid, 96% of all care delivered – saving the Welsh economy £8.1 billion a year. The report adds:

It would be a false economy not to invest and plan services to meet carers needs and support them to look after their own health and well-being.

However throughout Wales (as in England) many carer support groups are having their funding cut or withdrawn completely. In the long term these cuts are going to be shown to be very expensive indeed – as more and more families are stretched to their limits and cease to be able to cope.

The voice of carers comes through the report – noting (for example) that ‘many carers have told us that things have in fact worsened over the last few years’ – and the report includes many telling quotes:

I phoned the local authority asking for help for my son and was told that there was no help for him and I have to seek out my own support.

My health and well-being has deteriorated and I worry about what I will do if I have to give up my part-time job.

Some key statistics

  • In the last year fewer carers reported getting information about the support that might be available to help them (45% compared to 53% in the previous year);
  • Of those carers’ who have had an assessment, over 50% were not asked about their work situation and only 40% had a discussion about emergency planning;
  • 85% of carers who responded said that they had not had an assessment in the last twelve months, with 70% saying they had not had an assessment since the Act’s implementation (in 2016). As Carers Wales notes ‘Given that 61% of carers who responded to the survey said they were caring for over 50 hours a week and 69% said they had been caring for over five years, we find this figure worrying.’

Some of the local authority data responses are a little troubling. Cardiff City (the largest local authority in Wales) with 35,005 carers appears to have provided support to just 3 carers whereas Merthyr, the smallest authority with 7,427 carers, appears to have supported 114.

Swansea appears to have provided support for 30,788 carers – which is not only more carers than there are in Swansea (and more than 10 times the number it assessed) it is also four times as many as the combined total for all other reporting councils (the total for these 18 councils amounted to 6,937).   Either we have misunderstood the data (Carers Wales advise us that these are the figures it was given by councils) or one has to question the official data, on which presumably the Welsh Government also places some reliance?

To access the full report click here.

Photograph of ‘Hydref cynnar Llanfaglan’ by Richard Jones -@lluniaurich