Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, has called on the UK Government to do more to help the thousands of carers living in poverty and the many more who are at risk at sliding into financial hardship and social exclusion .
Jean, who opened a meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers yesterday , heard how despite more and more being expected of carers due to demographic changes and challenges to formal health and social care services throughout Europe support is fundamentally lacking.
Speaking after the meeting, Jean said: “In this the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, it is frankly unacceptable that anybody is forced into financial hardship by their caring role.
“The UK’s 6 million carers save the country an estimated £87 billion per year and in return they are paid just £53.10 a week for a minimum of 35 hour caring – the equivalent to £1.52 per hour. Furthermore, over half of carers are forced to give up their jobs and almost a third are forced to cut back on food or fuel. This cannot continue.
“Tragically, the swingeing cuts and a reliance on the ‘Big Society’ will only serve to increase the burden on carers and push more into poverty. The only way to reverse this trend is to provide carers with the support system they need, both physically and financially, to carry out their crucial role in society with dignity. To achieve this effectively we must give carers a genuine voice in future policy making at an EU and Member State level.”
 Evidence shows that caring, especially if you are caring 24/7, can have a devastating effect on your finances. Carers UK research shows that many carers and disabled people live in poverty and face hard choices over fuel and food. Our survey of over 3,000 carers showed
- 72% are worse off since they started caring
- 54% gave up work to care
• 30% are cutting back on food or heating
 The meeting, ‘Poverty and social exclusion: The European Year and future policy development’, was co-organised with Eurocarers. Attendees included carers, NGOs, relevant organisations and a representative from the Commission.