'Carers' need help to stay in work

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ALMOST 500,000 people have had to give up work to care for someone, costing the taxpayer pounds 1.2bn in benefits, according to organisers of a new campaign to help carers, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

A report by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers says that up to 250,000 unemployed carers would work if they were offered more flexible hours, saving the state pounds 560m a year.

The trust yesterday launched an appeal to raise pounds 25m to set up a network of centres providing practical information, guidance and support for some 7 million carers. Founded on the initiative of the Princess Royal in 1991, it has opened 22 centres, with another 18 due to open soon.

A survey showed that 1 million people provide more than 50 hours' care a week; over two-thirds felt their health had suffered; 28 per cent had received extra help from social services under care in the community, but over 75 per cent felt they needed more.