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Financially squeezed carers struggle with basic living costs

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Millions of young adults would benefit from access to financial advice as they are forced into the roles of "sandwich carers", the Government's Money Advice Service (MAS) has found.

A report published today revealed that 10% of the young adult UK population is trapped in a position where they care simultaneously for both older and younger family members.

The Sandwich Generation whose publication coincides with Carers Week, found that at present 4.7 million people aged 16+ were sandwich carers, with 32% struggling to cover basic living costs; and 22% in debt and finding it difficult to cope financially.

The report said it was concerned by the volume of adults caught in the “Sandwich Generation” and worried by the extent to which their dual-caring role was affecting their financial stability and ability to plan for the future.
It identified an “advice gap” with young adults unsure of where to turn for advice, which further exacerbated their financial situation.

Money Advice Service CEO Caroline Rookes 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.

“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 reassure carers they’re not alone, we’re here to help.”

The report warned that the number of sandwich carers looked set to rise, as the elderly lived longer and costs of care increased, while tuition fees were rising and house prices kept young people at home for longer.

One of the main issue facing sandwich carers was the cost of caring. Around half of carers earned less than £31,200 a year, the report found, but those that provided financial support spent around £10,400 per year alone on the people they cared for.

A fifth of carers were in debt while a third said they were struggling to cover basic living costs, the report found.

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 financial pressures and you create a pressure cooker effect.

“We must come together as a society to do more to help people care. Not least because carers deserve our support, but also when you consider £119bn is saved by carers’ contribution to society every year, we can’t afford not to”.

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