How the cost of living crisis is affecting carers in East Sussex

by | Jan 19, 2023 | Carer News, Carers voices

In September 2022 we held our Cost of Living focus groups to see the areas where carers are struggling.

Affording monthly expenses
  • Almost all of the carers we spoke to said they are experiencing a great deal of uncertainty about finances and living costs.
  • For many there was a ‘sense of panic’ and ‘extra stress’ due to rising costs on top of being in an already demanding unpaid caring situation.
  • A few carers we spoke to felt that they had no other option but to take out loans or overdrafts to help them support the person they care for, which in some cases has led to them getting into debt.

“The truth is carers save the government many, many thousands of pounds just through caring for the person they do. My caring role, the hours I do, has trebled since Covid.” (Carer, Peacehaven)

Transport costs
  • Carers explained the financial impact and significance of the costs of driving to medical appointments for the person they care for, some long distance, as well as when helping to meet the day-to-day needs of those they care for, for example shopping trips or collecting prescriptions.

“I take my disabled daughter to college 3 times a week and pick her up from Eastbourne.  I can’t believe how much the petrol has gone up. ” (Carer, Seaford)

Energy and heating costs
  • Even where carers have already taken steps to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, they told us that they are still experiencing huge rises in their energy bills.
  • Several carers told us about the extra costs they face as a result of needing to constantly run specialist equipment.  For example, medical equipment that the person they care for cannot be without.
  • Many carers related that the persons they care for ‘feel the cold’ due to health and other conditions and reducing their heating was simply not an option for them.

“They’ve put the standing orders up already. My bill has gone up from £60 per month to over £200 per month.” (Carer, Uckfield)

Food costs
  • Where special foods are required due to allergies and medical needs, carers explained that they already find these expensive, but with prices soaring this is adding extra financial pressure for them.
  • Many carers we spoke to were very aware of the detailed price increases, and shared tips on how to save on food bills.

“I found that things in the shop had gone up 10-15p since the last time I’d been shopping the week before.  I simply couldn’t believe or afford it.” (Parent carer, Hastings)

A voice for carers

We have shared these findings widely with supporters and decision makers, including Carers UK, the Sussex Community Foundation, the voluntary actions across East Sussex, Citizens Advice Bureaus, Hastings Representation and Advice Centre (HARC) and the district and borough councils.

Jacky Everard, Chief Executive of Hastings Representation and Advice Centre (HARC) commented: “It was a very sobering read on how the cost of living crisis is impacting on the health and wellbeing of East Sussex carers; it is a really anxious and stressful time for all.”

Carers nationally counting the costs

Our local findings fed into the Carers UK national survey Heading for Crisis: caught between caring and rising costs – Carers UK which found that 1 in 6 unpaid carers are in debt as a result of their caring role and their financial situation, and the proportion of carers unable to afford their utility bills has more than doubled since last year – from 6% in 2021 to 14% in 2022.

We will continue to amplify carers’ voices to bring about change and increased support for carers.  

If you would like to share your experiences, you can consider joining our Carers Voices Network. Email with the subject line ‘Carers Voices Network’ or phone us on 01323 738390. If you are struggling financially at the moment, please contact us on 01323 738390 to find out about available support.

If you are affected by the cost of living crisis, please take a look at our factsheet here, which is full of information about support available.

Written by Mark Townsend, Team Leader: Communities at Care for the Carers.

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