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Carer numbers

New study shows full extent of carer population

A new analysis of the extent of unpaid caring in Scotland has shown that around 759,000 people are caring for a relative, friend or neighbour – around 17 per cent of the population.

The publication gives one of the clearest and most detailed pictures of the caring population ever produced, covering issues like gender, carers’ health, employment and deprivation. It was produced by the Scottish Government to get a better picture of the scale and nature of Scottish caring.

Around 171,000 carers provide more than 35 hours of care a week. There are around 29,000 young carers aged under 16 – four per cent of that age group.

Most carers are women, 59 per cent, and the age group most likely to be a carer is 55 to 64 year olds. Nearly half of carers, 46 per cent, have been caring for five years or more, and a fifth have been caring for more than a decade.

Around a third, 32 per cent, said that caring had a negative impact on their health. More than half of carers, 56 per cent, are employed or self-employed and 25 per cent are retired.

Of those carers living in the most deprived areas, 47 per cent care for at least 35 hours a week, whereas only 24 per cent of carers in the least deprived areas care for this amount of time. Over three per cent of younger people aged under 25 living in the most deprived communities are carers, compared with nearly two per cent in the least deprived.

The publication comes a fortnight after the introduction of the Carers Bill to the Scottish Parliament. The Bill extends carers’ rights in law. It will entitle every adult carer to their own support plan, with young carers receiving a similar young carer statement. These will set out the needs of each carer, and the help and support they can receive.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said:

“This government has made carers’ rights a priority, but in order to look after their needs properly we need to understand exactly what the unpaid carer population looks like. That’s why we commissioned this extensive statistical publication.

“These figures demonstrate the enormous contribution that carers make to their families, communities and to the wider economy.

“We will probably never be able to do enough to truly reflect that contribution. But through the Carers Bill, and our investment of more than £114 million in carers’ support programmes, we are making some significant progress.”


Scotland’s Carers, and Official Statistics Publication for Scotland, was compiled from data including the 2011 Census and the Scottish Health Survey. The full report can be viewed here:


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