Look, we are sympathetic but ‘the news’ needs a bit more evidence and a bigger sample than 0.13% or probably less

I hesitated lest you think me uncaring for criticising a report suggesting unpaid carers are ‘close to burnout’ but, in the end, facts matter, regardless of the issue.

The ‘study’ upon which the claims are based is, once more, evidence-free yet tosses big percentages around freely.

The study is by ‘Carers Scotland.’ The Scottish report is at: https://www.carersuk.org/scotland/news/the-forgotten-families-in-lockdown-unpaid-carers-close-to-burnout-during-covid-19-crisis

The most dramatic claim in the Herald report is:

New research shows that our unpaid carers are having to take on a “staggering” 78% more work in care for their loved ones because the health care system is under so much pressure. And more than half fear burn-out.

The report actually says:

A staggering 78% of unpaid carers in Scotland are having to provide more care for their loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak.

Not quite the same thing?

We’ll see below that this is 78% of a self-selecting sample of 0.13% or less, of 690 000 carers in Scotland, so really, it’s 0.1%

The Scottish sample, from what is actually a UK survey, is 890, self-selecting respondents, from an estimated population of 690 000: https://www.gov.scot/policies/social-care/unpaid-carers/

In passing, in the Scottish section only, the researchers mention that the 890 included former carers too. We don’t hear how many. So, the sample is probably smaller than 0.13%. With the best will in the world, this is utterly insignificant. The responses, even from this tiny sample, were not all completed so for some questions, upon which they based percentages, the sample might have been even smaller than 0.1%!

The full UK-wide survey report is here: https://www.gov.scot/policies/social-care/unpaid-carers/

Interestingly, as we see in covid-19 death reporting, the report presents UK figures and at times compares them with those for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but figures for England are not presented.

Of course, the Herald report misses out this footnote from the Carers UK full report:

In Scotland, carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, are paid an additional
payment twice per year a Carer’s Allowance Supplement. This was part
of a commitment to raise Carers Allowance to the level of Job Seeker’s

So, it’s a FAIL again, Herald.


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