The Experiences of Poverty Among Unpaid Carers in Northern Ireland

We’ve worked with Carers NI’s to produce the first report of the Carer Poverty Commission, “the experiences of poverty among unpaid carers in Northern Ireland”, which emphasises the wide-ranging impacts of living in poverty while providing unpaid carer in Northern Ireland.

Based on focus groups and semi-structured interviews conducted with carers from across Northern Ireland, the report highlights that:

  • 25% of unpaid carers in Northern Ireland are living in poverty – significantly more than Northern Ireland’s non-carer population (16%) and higher than the carer poverty rate across the UK (23%).
  • Carers in Northern Ireland struggle to combine paid work with unpaid care with many carers having to leave the labour market to meet the demands of their caring role, a decision with immense financial and personal costs.
  • The current low monetary value of Carer’s Allowance, as well as the inflexibility of the eligibility criteria, provide an inadequate level of support for unpaid carers, and
  • The inescapable extra costs of providing care, including additional food, energy and transportation costs, make carers more vulnerable to the hardships of the cost-of-living crisis, which is squeezing already tight budgets.

The report found that, in order to tackle and address poverty, unpaid carers were keen to see a range of policy solutions implemented, including: wholesale reform to the eligibility and value of Carer’s Allowance; the introduction of a Carer’s Allowance Supplement; the introduction of a Carers Essentials Payment to help make the cost of essentials more affordable; and legislative changes to introduce paid carer’s leave and day-one rights to flexible working alongside improved workplace culture, policies and training schemes to support carers.

Read the full report here.