From 31 March to 25 April 2021, among people aged 16 years and over in Great Britain:
- More women (57%) provided unpaid care than men (43%); however, there were no significant differences between men and women in the number of hours, or type of care provided.
- A higher percentage of unpaid carers than non-carers reported that they were disabled (32% compared with 23%), with unpaid carers aged 16 to 34 years and 45 to 54 years more likely to be disabled than non-carers of the same age groups.
- A larger proportion of unpaid carers than non-carers were worried about the effects that the coronavirus pandemic was having on their life (63% compared with 56%).
- More than half of unpaid carers (57%) had received their first vaccine, and a fifth (20%) had received both doses. Fewer non-carers had received their first dose (44%) or had received both doses (16%), however, on average unpaid carers were older (52 years) than non-carers (47 years).
- There were no statistically significant differences between the percentage of unpaid carers who worked compared with non-carers, however, unpaid carers were more likely to work part-time (31%) than non-carers (25%).
In April 2021, more women (57%) provided unpaid care than men (43%), but there was no significant difference in the proportion of hours that men and women spent caring (Figure 1). These findings are in line with estimates in England and Wales from the 2011 Census, which show a higher proportion of women (58%) self-reporting as unpaid carers compared with men (42%).
The proportion of people who were unpaid carers (24%) was highest in the age group 55 to 64 years (Figure 2). Unpaid carers were older than non-carers with an average age of 52 years in comparison to 47 years. Further age breakdowns are available in the accompanying datasets.
There were no significant differences between men and women in the types of care activities provided (Figure 3). The most common care activity provided was “being available if needed” (69% men, 66% women).
A higher proportion of unpaid carers than non-carers stated that they were disabled (32% compared with 23%) (refer to glossary for definition of disability). Although unpaid carers were older than non-carers, Figure 4 shows that there were more disabled unpaid carers than disabled non-carers in the following age groups:
- 16 to 24 years (32% of unpaid carers were disabled compared with 17% for non-carers)
- 25 to 34 years (36% compared with 16%)
- 45 to 54 years (32% compared with 19%)
There were no statistically significant differences in disability for carers and non-carers for the other age groups.
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Unpaid carer is defined using the Government Statistical Service (GSS) harmonised “core” definition: identifying an unpaid carer if they provide support/care to an individual who has needs because of physical or mental health condition(s) or illness(es), or problems related to old age. Unpaid carers status is self-reported.
A non-carer is defined as someone who answered “no” to the following question:
“In the past seven days, did you look after, or give any help or support to, anyone because they have long-term physical or mental health conditions or illnesses, or problems related to old age? Exclude anything you do as part of your paid employment.”
For this survey, a person is said to be a "working adult" if:
- they had a paid job, either as an employee or self-employed
- they did any casual work for payment
- they did any unpaid or voluntary work in the previous week
A disabled person is defined as having a self-reported long-standing illness, condition or impairment that reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. There are an estimated 13.7 million disabled people in Great Britain according to the latest available estimates. This definition of disability is consistent with the Equality Act 2010 and the Government Statistical Service (GSS) harmonised definition.
Vaccination for COVID-19
The first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine given in the UK was 8 December 2020. COVID-19 vaccinations are now being provided in various locations across the country.
More information on the number of people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine to date and National Health Service (NHS) guidance on the COVID-19 vaccines is available.
The term “significant” refers to statistically significant changes or differences. Significance has been determined using the 95% confidence intervals, where instances of non-overlapping confidence intervals between estimates indicate the difference is unlikely to have arisen from random fluctuation. See our statistical uncertainty page.
A measure of the uncertainty around a specific estimate. It is expected that the interval will contain the true value on 95 occasions if repeated 100 times. As intervals around estimates widen, the level of uncertainty about where the true value lies increases. See our statistical uncertainty page.
Positive vaccine sentiment
“Positive vaccine sentiment” refers to adults who:
- have received a vaccine
- have been offered a vaccine and are waiting to be vaccinated
- report being very or fairly likely to have a vaccine if offered
Our survey does not include adults living in care homes or other establishments so will not capture vaccinations in these settings. Because of small sample sizes, the percentage of adults who have declined a vaccine should be treated with caution.Back to table of contents
Measuring the data
The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) is a monthly omnibus survey. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we adapted the OPN to become a weekly survey used to collect data on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on day-to-day life in Great Britain.
To enable more detailed analysis, such as the care hours breakdowns, four waves of this weekly OPN data have been pooled together and reweighted to create a larger dataset.
Throughout this article, April 2021 refers to data collected between 31 March 2021 and 25 April 2021, a period in which some easing of lockdown restrictions began. Survey responses were collected using an online self-completion questionnaire or over the phone.
Some survey questions asked for people's responses in reference to "the past seven days". These results have been presented as representing people's views during March and April 2021, even though attitudes may have changed slightly between the four waves included.
Estimates in this article are rounded to whole numbers. Where individual answer categories for a question have been combined to provide an estimate, the total may not sum to the total of individual categories because of this rounding.
For each wave, a sample was randomly selected from those that had previously completed the Labour Market Survey (LMS). From each household, one adult was selected at random but with unequal probability. Younger people were given higher selection probability because of under-representation in the sample available. The survey also includes a boosted sample for England, to allow more detailed analysis at a regional level, which is available in the datasets of the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain publications.
The responding sample in the four waves contained 16,362 individuals (68% response rate). Survey weights were applied to make estimates representative of the population.
Weights were first adjusted for non-response and attrition. Subsequently, the weights were calibrated to satisfy population distributions considering the following factors: sex by age, region, tenure, highest qualification and employment status. The resulting weighted sample is representative of the adult population of Great Britain by several socio-demographic factors and geography.
Strengths and limitations
Strengths of the OPN include:
- it allows for timely production of data and statistics that can respond quickly to changing needs
- the questionnaire is developed with customer consultation, and design expertise is applied in the development stages
- robust methods are adopted for the survey's sampling and weighting strategies to limit the impact of bias
- quality assurance procedures are undertaken throughout the analysis stages to minimise the risk of error
Limitations of the OPN include:
- analysis of estimates in Wales and Scotland are based on low sample sizes, and therefore caution should be used with these estimates
- comparisons between periods and groups must be done with caution as estimates are provided from a sample survey; as such, confidence intervals are included in the datasets to present the sampling variability
More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain and the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey QMI.Back to table of contents
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