Public rank carers alongside emergency services

The survey was conducted for Carers Week by the internet pollster, YouGov. Researchers surveyed over 2,000 members of the public and found six out of seven (86%) believe that carers make a valuable contribution to society, behind only nurses (91%) and firefighters (90%).

Plumbers are valued by 46% of the public, the Royal Family receive the support of 27%, with politicians (14%), bankers (12%) and footballers (5%) bringing up the rear.

But despite being valued almost as much as nurses and firefighters, the main benefit for carers, Carers' Allowance, is the lowest of its kind at just £53.10, which equates to £1.52 per hour. According to the survey, over three-quarters (76%) of the public believe this level of Carers' Allowance is unreasonable.

Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, who has been a carer himself, supports the public's view of the role carers play. He said: "Just imagine for a moment what would happen if carers ceased to care and simply gave up. There would be no-one to look after millions of frail, elderly and disabled people. It would be nightmare: chaos, panic and much worse.

"Of course carers would never behave like that. They are motivated by love, duty and compassion. But those of us who have been in that role, even for a short time, know how testing and draining it can be. That is why Britain's 'secret service' must not be forgotten, ignored or exploited."

Carers Week manager, Paul Matz, said: "In many instances carers can be equated to the emergency services - because they do step in when there is an emergency, often becoming a carer literally overnight. As the public has recognised, the level of Carers' Allowance simply isn't adequate, particularly when the work they do saves the UK economy an estimated £87 billion every year.

"Carers Week is calling on the government to do more to support carers, along with other organisations such as the NHS, which can do so much to improve carers' lives. Carers shouldn't have to struggle on alone when they contribute so much."

Find out what events are happening in your area by visiting the Carers Week website (opens new window) or by calling 0845 241 2582.

Carers Week takes place between 8th-14th June this year. And for the first time, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is hosting a series of online Q&A sessions with government and opposition politicians.