Report: Who cares? The implications of informal care and work for policymakers and employers


This Work Foundation paper outlines some of the implications associated with the growing number of informal carers in the UK, the health and social care system’s increasingly unsustainable reliance on them, and what government and employers can do about it.

Key findings

  • Between 2001 and 2011, the number of informal carers rose significantly from 5.8 million to 6.5 million. Around 60 per cent of carers are women and the vast majority (around 4.1 million) are of working age. Furthermore, the majority of working age carers (2.6 million) combine work with their caring responsibilities.
  • The number of informal carers is expected to rise. Estimates suggest they will number nine million by 2075. The economic value of their contribution is huge – and the UK’s health and social care system is heavily and increasingly reliant on it.
  • As the number of working age carers grows, employers will be under increasing pressure to support them; it is in their interests to do so.
  • The report makes four key recommendations to better support working carers: improving workplace flexibility; the ability to take statutory leave to provide care rather than annual leave; better workplace support; and, if carers fall out of the workforce, support should be provided to help them return to work.

This paper is informed by academic and grey literature, as well as a workshop the Work Foundation hosted in 2017 (in partnership with Simplyhealth) , which was attended by more than 30 expert stakeholders from government and non-government bodies, individual carers, carers charities, think tanks and businesses.