One in four older female workers providing care

One in four older female workers providing care

New figures released today (March 15) by the Office for National Statistics show that one in four older female workers have care responsibilities, which compares to one in eight older male workers.

The majority of these individuals – nearly three in five – are aged more than 50-years-old, while one in five people aged 50 to 69-years-old are informal carers – this is the most common age group for having caring responsibilities, the ONS stated.

In 2016, informal adult care was valued at £59.5bn per year, with around two million adults in the UK receiving informal care.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, noted these caring responsibilities could impact on these individuals' employment and retirement prospects.

He said: "Many are offering valuable but unpaid informal care, looking after elderly family members or friends.

The demand for informal care is being driven by longer life expectancies, but our ageing population also makes it increasingly important that people can stay in employment.

"With the very high cost of ‘formal’ social care, the need for informal care is likely to continue to grow which could have big implications for the retirement plans of carers particularly amongst those approaching typical retirement ages."

According to Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, the new data "reveals the staggering amount of people that are propping up this country by filling the care gap caused by the social care crisis".

She said: "There continues to be no significant policies in place to ease the growing strain left on the country by an ageing population.

"The chancellor [of the Exchequer] in the Spring Statement this week did at the least gave social care a cursory nod, as he announced a three-year spending review to be published alongside the next budget, but we really need concrete action now."

The government has already said the future model of social care won't be solely funded by taxpayers.

It is estimated just 12 per cent of adults aged 55 or over are currently putting aside money to pay for social care later in life.

Former prime minister David Cameron had promised to implement a cap on the cost of care of £72,500, which was supposed to come into effect in April 2016.

But in 2015 the government pushed this back to 2020, because it would have added £6bn to public sector spending at a "time of consolidation".

In December 2017 the government confirmed the proposed cap would be scrapped while a green paper on long-term reform was put together.

The publication of this paper was originally expected in the summer but has since been pushed back to the autumn, and the government has since hinted the publication could be delayed further due to "unforeseen circumstances".

Ms Griffin argued that the ONS figures "show that the seemingly illusory green paper on social care is needed now more than ever, so we can at the very least start to formulate a concrete plan for how this country can tackle this growing problem".