THE TRUE COST OF FAMILY CARING; Battling 'Sandwich Generation' Saves Society PS119bn a Year
Byline: TRICIA PHILLIPS PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org
A THIRD of the so-called "sandwich generation" are struggling with basic living costs and more than a fifth are in debt as they find it difficult to cope financially.
These are people who are having to juggle the obligations in their lives, caring for both young and older family members simultaneously.
Research by the Money Advice Service shows 10% of the UK adult population (aged 16-plus) are currently sandwich carers - that's 4.7million adults.
This number is expected to rise as the elderly live longer and the costs of care keeps increasing.
That's at the same time as rising basic living costs, tuition fees and house prices are keeping kids at home for longer.
Almost half of carers, 48%, earn less than PS31,200 a year, and earnings are being impacted by their pressures.
A quarter of carers have had to reduce their working hours and a further quarter have had to give up work altogether, putting extreme pressure on finances.
This week is Carers Week and the Money Advice Service is hoping to help highlight the issues faced by those who have a double caring role.
It wants to encourage more people to check what help they are entitled to and prevent unnecessary hardship.
Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service, said: "This research highlights the real financial strain which sandwich carers are under and how people with a dual-caring role face a multitude of pressures, which vary from family to family.
"Money is clearly only a part of the picture but it's a major factor affecting carers' lives and we know millions are struggling to cope.
"There is no single solution for all carers because every circumstance is different, but we have a host of free support, from everyday budgeting to funding your own long-term care.
"We want to assure carers they're not alone; we're here to help."
More than a third, 35%, of sandwich carers have been providing care for more than five years, spending an average 30 hours a week caring for children under the age of 16, plus a further 18 hours caring for parents and other relatives who are elderly.
This caring contribution has saved the British economy a staggering PS119billion every year.
But there is a huge gap in advice for carers, with confusion over where to turn for help and very few getting the support they need.
Carers Week Manager, Helen Clarke, said: "Sandwich carers are often put in a very difficult position and have a real balancing act to play juggling the needs of caring for both young and old.
"Add to that the financial pressures and you can create a pressure cooker effect.
"We must come together as a society to do more to help people care.
"Carers deserve our support, but when you consider PS119billion is saved by carers' contribution to society, we can't afford not to."
Make sure you get the right help
MANY people miss out on vital extra money because they don't know what they can claim.
Check you are getting everything you are entitled to, including Carer's Allowance, Carer's Credit, Guardian's Allowance - by using the Benefits Adviser tool on www.gov.uk.
You can also see which benefits you, and those you care for, are entitled to claim by visiting www. …