ALMOST one in 10 people were acting as unpaid carers as of 2021, census data has revealed.

Figures show 12,653 people in the Braintree district were looking after someone without being paid when the census was carried out in March 2021 – 8.6 per cent of the population over five years old in the district.

That was down from the previous census in 2011, when 10.9 per cent of people in the area were providing unpaid care.

Across the district, 6,166 people were providing more than 20 hours of unpaid care a week in 2021 – including 3,796 people doing more than 50 hours a week.

Carers UK charity chief exec Helen Walker said that without the work of unpaid carers, "our health and social care systems would quite simply collapse".

She said many people do not think of themselves as unpaid carers.

“Most people consider themselves to be a partner, husband, wife, son, daughter, good friend or neighbour and don’t recognise themselves as unpaid carers," she said.

“We know that there are potentially many more hidden carers out there that could be getting information, advice and support and it’s essential that public services recognise this in their planning and delivery.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “The Government has prioritised health and social care in the Autumn Statement, with up to £7.5billion available over the next two years to support adult social care services – the biggest funding increase in history.

“Specifically for unpaid carers, we are also providing local areas with over £290million in funding for short breaks and respite services, as well as additional advice and support,” they added.