Recent stats on caring

I’ve been delving into the Department of Work and Pensions Family Resources Survey 2016/17 published recently. It contains statistics in five broad categories: Income and State Support; Tenure; Disability; Care; and Pensions.

It is the Care statistics which I’d like to highlight today. I’ve written previously on this site about carers, highlighting the prevalence of women doing the majority of care-work around the world.

These recent Family Resources Survey stats show that the largest portion of informal care is for ageing parents. 33% of this care is for parents not living in the same household, whilst 7% care for parents living with the carer. The next largest portion of informal care is the 19% caring for a spouse or partner in their own household.

Informal care includes

helping with shopping, preparing meals and feeding, household chores, dressing, washing. In 2016/17, 8 per cent (5.4 million) of people were informal carers.

Women do more informal caring than men, up to the age of 84. The last category, of those aged over 85, is the only one in which more men are carers than women.

Forty-eight per cent of men providing informal care were in full-time employment compared to 26 per cent of women. Women providing informal care were much more likely to be in part-time employment than men; 25 per cent of women providing informal care worked part-time compared to 8 per cent of men.

Looking at the effect on daily life, 29% of informal carers provided more than 35 hours of care per week. Many unpaid hours of care are given by men and women up and down this country every day.

We need to value the free work which undergirds our society. It is one reason I am keen on a citizen’s income. A basic income would value, in a small way, the thousands of hours of care that is currently gratuitous. It seems the fairest way to recognise the extraordinary contribution many are making to society.

A link to the datasets and tables is here.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at www.kirstenjohnsonpiano.com.

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