Cash-strapped carers turn to payday lenders

Carers struggling with the financial burden of caring for Britain’s elderly and disabled are increasingly turning to payday lenders, new research has shown.

The cost of care is causing serious hardship for 6.5 million households where there is a family carer.

These people are spending their savings and taking out payday loans to keep float, according to a report published by Scottish Widows think tank the Centre for Modern Family.

The think tank has called for the government to make support for family carers a top priority, after finding nearly half of caring households are feeling the financial strain.

“Sandwich” carers, who provide care and support for more than one family member, are particularly hard hit. They were on average £457 worse off each month as a result of their caring responsibilities.

One in 20 sandwich carers had turned to payday loans to make ends meet in the last year, with one in six selling valuables to raise money.

Lord Leitch, chairman of the Centre for the Modern Family, said: “Family carers play a hugely valuable role in society and it is crucial that we protect them, their finances and their futures.”

Many carers were found to be taking on second jobs or extra work to make ends meet, with 14pc of sandwich carers doing so, despite spending an average of 24 hours a week caring for multiple family members.

One in ten has had to cut back on their pension contributions, and nearly a quarter are spending savings, raising the prospect of even worse financial problems in the future.

Lord Leitch added: “Government, organisations and communities must now work together to understand who is best-placed to provide a safety network to reward and relieve those in these great positions of trust and responsibility.”