Census 2021 statement
The Office for National Statistics has released the first set of Census 2021 results on unpaid care in England and Wales.
Since 2001 the Census has included a question on unpaid care to capture the proportion of unpaid carers who look after, or give any help or support to, anyone because they have long-term physical or mental health conditions or illnesses, or problems related to old age. These figures are incredibly important for the planning of local and national services to support unpaid carers and their loved ones, and to inform debates and policies on care and caring.
The main findings of the release are:
- In England and Wales an estimated 5.0 million usual residents aged 5 years and over provided unpaid care in 2021, this is an age-standardised proportion of 9.0%, a decrease from 11.4% in 2011.
- The proportion of people providing 19 hours or less of unpaid care a week decreased from 7.2% in 2011 to 4.4% in 2021.
- The proportion of people who provided 20 to 49 hours of unpaid care a week increased from 1.5% in 2011 to 1.9% in 2021.
- The proportion of people who provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week increased slightly from 2.7% in 2011 to 2.8% in 2021.
- A larger proportion of people provided any amount of unpaid care in Wales (10.5%) than in England (8.9%) in 2021; in Wales, a larger proportion of people provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week (3.6%, compared with 2.7% in England).
Census data are essential to a better understanding of our society. They are vital for the research we do in the Centre for Care which explores the intersectional nature and experiences of care and caring, including how these change over time and place.
The Office for National Statistics is a Co-investigator in the Centre for Care. Our research agenda has been carefully planned together, including the analysis of Census 2021 data to explore the impact that providing unpaid care has on the finances, social mobility, and physical and mental health of unpaid carers.
Please visit the ONS website ‘Unpaid Care, England and Wales: Census 2021’ to view the full release.
Matt is a Professorial Research Fellow and the Deputy Director of the ESRC Centre for Care. He works closely with Carers UK and the Office for National Statistics to better understand inequality and wellbeing outcomes for unpaid carers. Matt’s social care research (both academic and co-produced with Carers UK) has consistently featured in the national media and has been debated in the House of Lords.