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The number of child cares of all ages continues to increase across Britain, whilst Government spending on welfare drops

  • It is estimated that around 18,250 five to seven years olds will care for a relative or loved one in England and Wales in the next two years
  • The number of unpaid child carers continues to rise, with close to 150,000 under 16s acting as carers
  • This includes nearly 90,000 10 to 14-year olds
  • Carers Week 2019 runs between the 10th and 16th of June

With close to 7 million people in the UK continuing to provide unpaid care for relatives and loved ones, the number of children and young people thrust into this role is set to hit record figures. This data has been highlighted by Cera Care, a leading UK homecare provider, as part of their efforts to raise awareness about the care sector during Carers Week.

Census data shows that in the next couple of years we can expect the number of unpaid carers under the age of 16 to be in the region of 143,500 across England and Wales. As Government spending on welfare, measured against GDP, declined by 22.7% between 2011 to 2019, increasing pressure has been placed on families to find solutions to care needs from within.

According to the data, we can expect the number of five to seven-year-olds thrust into this role in the next two years to hit close to 20,000. The growth in the number of children in caring roles puts significant strain on families. Over 10,000 children provide 50 or more hours of unpaid care work per week, a time commitment in excess of many adults full-time jobs.

Children as young as five years old can find themselves providing primary care for a family member with over 9,000 children aged between 5 and 7 find themselves in a care role each year. The age group set to be most affected is those aged between 10 and 14, with 87,566 children in England and Wales in this age group expected to care for a loved one or relative in the next two years.

Young carers can often face the challenge of not fully understanding the condition afflicting their family member. This is especially the case where the sufferer’s condition varied over time because of treatment or the nature of the condition. In such cases, research from the Department for Education has shown that it is much harder for households to establish routines and therefore both carers and sufferers feel they have less control over their lives.

Sarah McEwan from Cera said: “When anyone is thrust into the role of primary carer for a family member, loved one or relative, it can put significant pressure on their lives. It impacts their ability to work, their own health and personal well-being. When that person is a child, this pressure is vastly increased.

“We’re seeing a growing number of children as young as five looking after one or both of their parents or caring for a brother or sister. They may be caring for a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition or even a drug or alcohol problem. Time spent providing care at home impacts their ability to do well at school and to enjoy life.

“Many children also don’t realise that they are carers and just continue to do what is best for their families day in day out.”

The pressure of taking on this role appears to impact girls slightly more often than their male peers, with females accounting for 53% of the child carers in England & Wales.

Cera has created a detailed guide with more information about the help available for child carers.

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Cera specialises in helping people find the right home and live-in care for their loved ones and provide continued support for as long as it is required. The tailored home care packages offered by Cera ensure whatever the needs of individuals and families, they’ll always be well cared for.

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Patrick Rose
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