An exclusive survey highlights that most families struggle financially, find the benefits system difficult to understand and often lead very isolated lives. The findings will be part of a special ITV News series, Who Cares?, starting on Monday 6 February.

Through Carers UK, ITV News asked 1,000 people how they cope financially with looking after someone and a staggering third of respondents said it was "difficult" while another 21% said it was a "constant struggle".

Almost a third of carers said they lived on benefits alone and a shocking 31% told us they had actually fallen into debt as a direct result of having to care for someone. Only 43% of respondents have income from employment - despite the majority of them being of working age.

 

One in four respondents had not claimed benefits because they said the benefits system is too complicated (13%), they didn't know what benefits to claim (10%) or they felt it wasn't worth it (6%).

 

In addition to language school struggling financially, many carers also feel socially isolated and say their health has suffered. 63% of respondents said they felt isolated as a carer and over a third said they never get a break from caring. Going on holiday or simply leaving the house to go shopping is often difficult.

 

A worrying 45% said their health had deteriorated since becoming a carer with 14% claiming their health was "much worse". Out of all respondents, 44% said they spend more than 70 hours a week caring for someone else, while another 10% spent at least 50-70 hours a week on a sick or disabled family member.

 

As a result of these striking findings, ITV News on Monday 6 February is launching a campaign calling for the Government to appoint a 'Carers Czar' to champion the rights of carers.

 

There are six million carers in the UK and 1.25 million care for over 50 hours a week. One in five people have given up work in order to care for someone.

 

ITV News' special series Who Cares? will start on the ITV Lunchtime News on Monday 6 February and run on the ITV Lunchtime and ITV Evening News all week.