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'Sandwich carers' feel the squeeze; PERSONAL FINANCE If your care commitments for both children and elderly relatives are leaving you struggling to cope financially, it's worth checking whether you qualify for support.

ATHIRD of the so-called "sandwich generation" are struggling with basic living costs and more than a fifth are in debt as they find it difficult to cope financially.

These are people who are having to juggle the obligations in their lives, caring for both young and older family members simultaneously.

Research by the Money Advice Service shows 10 per cent of the UK adult population (aged 16-plus) are currently sandwich carers - that''s 4.7million adults.

This number is expected to rise as the elderly live longer and the costs of care keeps increasing.

This coincides with rising basic living costs, tuition fees and house prices keeping kids at home for longer.

Almost half of carers, 48 per cent, earn less than PS31,200 a year, and earnings are being impacted by their pressures.

A quarter of carers have had to reduce their working hours and a further quarter have had to give up work altogether, putting extreme pressure on finances.

Money Advice Service wants to encourage more people to check what help they are entitled to and prevent unnecessary hardship.

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service, says: "This research highlights the real financial strain which sandwich carers are under and how people with a dual-caring role face a multitude of pressures, which vary from family to family.

Money is only a part of the "Money is clearly only a part of the picture but it''s a major factor affecting carers' ' lives and we know millions are struggling to cope.

picture but it''s a major factor...

"There is no single solution for all carers because every circumstance is different, but we have a host of free support, from everyday budgeting to funding your own long-term care.

"We want to assure carers they''re not alone; we''re here to help."

More than a third, 35 per cent, of sandwich carers have been providing care for more than five years, spending an average 30 hours a week caring for children under the age of 16, plus a further 18 hours caring for parents and other relatives who are elderly.

This unpaid contribution saves the British economy a staggering PS119billion every year.

But there is a huge gap in advice for carers, with confusion over where to turn for help and very few getting the support they need.

Carers Week Manager, Helen Clarke, says: "Sandwich carers are often put in a very difficult position and have a real balancing act to play juggling the needs of caring for both young and old.

"Add to that the financial pressures and you can create a pressure cooker effect.

"We must come together as a society to do more to help people care.

"Carers deserve our support, but when you consider PS119billion is saved by carers' contribution to society, we can''t afford not to."

" Many people miss out on vital extra money because they don't know what they can claim.

Check you are getting everything you are entitled to, including carer''s allowance, carer''s credit, guardian''s allowance - by using the Benefits Adviser tool on www.gov.uk.

You can also see which benefits you, and those you care for, are entitled to claim by visiting www.gov.uk/benefits-adviser.

You could get carer''s credit if you are caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week.

This is a National Insurance credit which helps build your entitlement to the State Pension. It will help ensure there are no gaps in your National Insurance record. Visit www.gov.uk/carers-credit/eligibility.

Carer''s allowance (PS59.75 a week) is available if you look after someone with substantial caring needs.

You don''t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for but you do need to be aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them.

Visit www.gov.uk/carersallowance /eligibility for details.

Caring for a relative often means helping them with their money matters but make sure you protect your own financial position first, especially your retirement income.

The Money Advice Service offers a whole range of free, impartial advice for sandwich carers who have financial dependents - including online tools and calculators as well as guides to help carers.

Visit: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/caring to learn more.

POUND NOTES Financial dictionary: Ucis UCIS, or to give them their full catchy title, unregulated collective investment schemes, can often hold assets such as fine wines, crops and timber.

A clampdown on the promotion of Ucis by tough new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority will come into force from next year, amid concerns that many ordinary retail investors have taken out investments that have turned out to be unsuitable. Consumers were found to have lost "substantial amounts of money" in some cases.

Ucis are often seen as being risky, unusual or complex and the assets that they hold are sometimes hard to value.

From January 1, the promotion of Ucis will generally be restricted to experienced investors and people with a high net worth.

Fall in first-time buyer mortgages THE choice of mortgages for struggling first-time buyers has shrunk in the last year despite Government efforts to unblock the housing market, according to a financial website.

One year ago, there were 62 deals available for people with a 5% deposit, but by this month there were 54 products, Moneyfacts said.

However, the average interest rate charged on such deals has edged down, from 5.48% in July 2012 to 5.32% by this month.

Almost half of the current mortgage deals on the market are aimed at people with bigger deposits of 25-40%.

The number of mortgages on the market generally has increased sharply since the Government launched a scheme called Funding for Lending last August.

Thousands of Britons kept awake by debt MORE than 10,000 people have sought help with their money worries in the middle of the night since the start of this year, a debt advice charity has reported.

StepChange said that the peak time for using its free online debt help tool - called Debt Remedy - was between midnight and 1am.

The charity believes that people are more likely to be using the tool at this time because their debts are making it hard to sleep.

Claiming for cats and dogs PET insurers are paying out more than PS1.2 million every day to cat and dog owners, according to new figures.

The total bill for the treatment of sick or injured cats and dogs came to PS452 million last year, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.

The average medical bill for treating ill or injured pets is now over PS300, according to the ABI.

Some more complex treatments, such as hip dysplasia, cost more than PS4,000.

One vet's bill came to PS1,500 for a dog which had swallowed a marker pen, while treatment for a Mastiff dog to remove a snooker ball he had swallowed cost more than PS1,000.

TOP FIVE SAVER RATES Phone/Website Rate Account Period Deposit Interest Paid FirstSave firstsave.co.uk 2.90%(F) Fixed Rate Bond 2nd 5Yr Bnd PS1,000 Yly ICICI Bank UK hisave.co.uk 2.75%(F) HiSAVE 5YrBnd(W) PS1,000 Yly Shawbrook Bank shawbrook.co.uk 2.75%(F) Fixed Rate Bond 5Yr Bnd(B) PS5,000 Yly Vanquis Bank highyieldaccount .co.uk 2.56%(F) High Yield 5YrBnd(W) PS1,000 Yly Cheshire BS thecheshire.co.uk 2.30%(*) ISA Saver(Issue3) None(P) PS1,000 Yly TOP FIVE MORTGAGE RATES Phone No Rate Period Max% Adv Fee Incentive Norwich & Peterborough BS 0845 300 2522 2.24% F for 2 years 65% PS295 Yes Hanley Economic BS 01782 255000 4.20% F to 31.8.18 90% - Yes Yorkshire BS 0845 120 0874 2.19%F to 30.6.15 60% PS475 Yes Furness BS 0800 220568 3.45%D for 3Yrs 90% PS995 Yes Marsden BS 0800 801 645 2.89%D to 30.9.16 80% PS299 Yes SHOULD YOU INVEST IN...

A buy-to-let property? INTEREST in the buy-to-let market has been on the up at a time when savings rates are poor and borrowing is cheap.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders recently reported that PS4.2 billion worth of buy-to-let mortgages were advanced in the first three months of 2013, showing a 14% year-on-year increase. Investing in a buy-to-let property is one way of helping to boost a pension, especially at a time when many people are finding they are not getting the retirement income they had hoped.

TOP FIVE Phone No Rate xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx Many people have also become accidental landlords as the tough economy has made it harder to sell their homes in recent years.

Strong demand in the private rental sector from tenants who have struggled to get onto the property ladder has pushed up rents - and the potential returns for landlords.

MORTGAGE RATES Like the property sales market, the performance of the rental market varies strongly according to where you live, so check out how much money rental properties are making locally before making a decision.

Period Max% Adv xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx The renewed interest in buy-to-let has meant more inexperienced landlords entering the market, so make sure you are fully aware of what you are taking on.

The Electrical Safety Council recently urged landlords to make sure they comply with legal obligations to ensure that electrical installations are safe.

Failing to do so could result in fines of tens of thousands of pounds and having your insurance invalidated - as well as putting tenants at risk.

Fee Incentive xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx A guide for landlords and tenants on their electrical safety responsibilities is at www.esc.org.uk/landlords.

Money is only a part of the picture but it''s a major factor...

CAPTION(S):

Peak time for Debt Remedy calls is midnight to 1am

Caring for elderly or ill relatives, can impact on your income, particularly if you also have young children to look after. It's estimated so-called 'sandwich' carers save the country around PS119billion every year
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 15, 2013
Words:1704
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