UK's hidden child workforce: Young carers do £12,000 of unpaid work every year

Monday 17 February 2020

New research (1) released today (Monday 17 February 2020) by UK charity Action for Children shows young carers spend on average 25 hours a week caring for loved ones

For a young carer between the ages of 7-18, this would add up to over £140,000 of free work across that caring lifetime - or the equivalent of over £12,000 a year on a part-time carer’s wage.

The charity is warning that not only do these children care for their loved ones on top of their school day, they are effectively also ‘on call’ overnight.

Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children, said:

“Children cook, clean and care unpaid for family members with little recognition of the work they do or the proper support they need.

“Having regular breaks and fun activities through young carer respite services can be a lifeline for them – but services are patchy and there aren’t enough to support this hidden child workforce.

“We’re calling on the new government to make sure all young carers have access to these essential respite services. This would give these children the practical and emotional support they need to have a safe and happy childhood.”


Media Contact

Huw Beale, Senior Media Officer, Action for Children

07718 114 038 / [email protected]

Notes to Editors

(1) 383 young carers filled in the survey. Methodology here:

Q1. Roughly how long on a typical school day do you help care for your parent/sibling(s)?

1,519.5 hours / 383 responses = 3.77 hours per day (Mon-Fri) * 5 days = 18.85

Q.2 Roughly how long over a typical weekend during term-time do you help care for your parent/sibling(s)?

2,406 hours / 383 responses = 5.85 hours over the weekend

Total per week = 24.71 hours - rounds up to 25 hrs per week

  • According to Indeed average hourly pay. 25 hrs per week x £9.78 = £244.5 weekly pay 244.5 x 52 weeks per year (according to our research which suggests that rather than having time off over the holidays – summer and Christmas – young carers’ workload actually increases) = £12,714 annual pay
  • £12,714 x 11 years = £139,854. We chose this age range due to the responses we received from our survey, which were from young carers ranging between 7-18 years old.

About Action for Children
Action for Children protects and supports vulnerable children and young people by providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives. With 476 services in communities across the country, the charity helps more than 387,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers a year.