Carers 'worried about welfare cuts'
Nearly half of carers are struggling to make ends meet and worried about further cuts to welfare, a charity has warned.
Carers UK said it was calling on the Government to help the millions of carers who provide vital help to others by providing them with better financial support.
The charity has released a report based on the experiences of 4,500 carers, with most (84%) saying their caring duties made them feel stressed and more than half (55%) experiencing depression.
About eight out of 10 (82%) of those surveyed said that looking after a disabled, older or seriously-ill relative or friend has had a negative impact on their health, with almost three-quarters (74%) struggling to get enough sleep.
Of the 48% who said they are struggling financially, about two in five (41%) said this is leading them to cut back on essentials like food and heating, and 26% are having to borrow from family and friends.
Three out of five (60%) of those questioned said they are worried about their ability to remain in work, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying they have had to use their annual leave to provide care.
Half (51%) of the carers polled had already given up work to care and 12% had taken early retirement.
Of those who gave up work, retired early or reduced their working hours, about two-thirds (65%) said the stress of juggling work and care was a contributing factor, nearly a third (30%) said it was because there are no suitable care services and 22% said care services are too expensive.
The charity said that during the next five years under the Tories, 10.6 million people will take on a new caring role for a disabled, older or seriously-ill relative or friend.
Chief executive Helena Herklots said: "Carers are saying loud and clear that they want to see action taken over the next parliament to put in place the right care and support services to improve their health and greater financial support to stop them and their families ending up in financial hardship.
"Our latest report shows that being a carer in 2015 can be incredibly tough, taking a huge toll on health and mental well-being, finances and relationships.
"More and more people are taking on a caring role - 10.6 million over the course of this parliament.
"So, getting it right for carers has never been more imperative. Carers can't carry on doing this alone."