A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) identifies that 5.8 million people in England and Wales, amounting to 10% of the population, are now providing unpaid care to sick, disabled or elderly loved ones. This figure includes 3.3 million women, an increase of 600,000 since 2001.

With an ageing population, more people are dependent on family members to look after them and the burden is falling disproportionately on women, especially those in their 50s who are spending a fifth of their lives caring for others. According to The Telegraph: “An ageing population also increases the likelihood of a person becoming an informal carer, especially during their working years. Such care provision has even been shown to have an unfavourable impact on a carer’s health and can affect labour market participation.”

Steve McIntosh, policy manager at Carers UK, said: “There is a real message to the Government that, unless social care services are funded in a sustainable way, more and more people in their 50s and 60s will have to give up their jobs at a huge cost to themselves and also to the economy.”