Shropshire Star

Teenage girls ‘face almost eight years of their future as an unpaid carer’

Similarly for older people it is women who face more time as an unpaid carer, according to the Office for National Statistics analysis.

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Girls can expect to spend more of their future life as unpaid carers than boys, new statistics suggest (Alamy/PA)

Teenage girls can expect to spend almost eight years of the rest of their life as an unpaid carer, new data has suggested.

This compares with just over five years for teenage boys, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The new estimates look at the average number of years people are expected to provide unpaid care beyond their current age between 2020 and 2022.

For 15-year-old girls, the forecast is that they will spend on average 7.6 years of their remaining lives providing unpaid care.

For boys of the same age it is estimated to be 5.3 years.

Similarly for older people it is women who face more time as an unpaid carer, according to the statistics.

For people aged 50 between 2020 and 2022, women can expect to spend 4.7 years of their remaining lives providing unpaid care, while men face around 3.5 years of unpaid care.

Unpaid carers, also referred to as informal carers, provide care to anyone because of long-term physical or mental ill-health or disability, or care needs relating to old age.

Josephine Foubert, from the ONS, said the analysis “shines a light” on unpaid care.

She said: “We know that around 9% of people in England provide unpaid care for a loved one.

“This new analysis shines a light on the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers, and how long on average people can expect to spend caring in their lifetime.”

Ramzi Suleiman, from the Carers Trust, said: “These alarming figures show how women are disproportionately shouldering the pressures of caring. This is a long-term trend and it’s high-time action was taken to tackle it.

“Women should not have to put their own health and wellbeing on the line to plug the gaps created by our struggling social care system.

“If we’re serious about creating a more just and equal society, unpaid carers must be supported.

“Whoever forms the next government must prioritise long-term funding for social care and ensure unpaid carers can access desperately-needed respite breaks. We also need a reformed welfare system that works for carers, including helping them to access employment.”

The length of time in their future someone can expect to spend providing unpaid care differs according to where they live in England, the statistics suggested – with a four-year difference between those areas with the highest and lowest estimates of unpaid care expectancy for 15-year-old girls.

St Helens on Merseyside has the highest number of years that a teenage girl is likely to spend carrying out unpaid care, at 9.6, while the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has the lowest, at 5.6.

Four of the top six local areas with the highest number of years are in or close to Merseyside in north-west England: St Helens (9.6), Halton (9.2), Knowsley (9.1)and Wirral (9.1).

The other two areas are Torbay in Devon (9.2 years) and Sunderland (9.1).

All of the top 10 areas with the lowest number of years are in London.

There is a similar geographical pattern in unpaid care expectancy for 15-year-old boys, though the gap between the highest and lowest averages is smaller.

Knowsley and St Helens on Merseyside are joint top of the boys’ list at 6.7 years, followed by Halton in Cheshire (6.6) and then Sefton in Merseyside, Sunderland, Telford & Wrekin in Shropshire, Torbay and Wirral (all 6.3).

Hammersmith & Fulham is again the local authority with the lowest number of years (4.0), with nine of the top 10 lowest areas all in London.

The ONS said the unpaid care expectancy estimates were calculated by combining data on unpaid care collected in Census 2021, with death counts and mid-year population estimates.

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