Parents of disabled children could have £138,000[1] less in their pensions if their caring responsibilities prevent them from returning to work, according to analysis from leading workplace pension provider, People’s Partnership[2].

The provider of The People’s Pension to 6.7 million people across the UK calculated the impact of caring for a child with a disability on parents’ ability to save for retirement. It found parents of disabled children who return to work part-time are £89,000[3] worse off than parents who are able to continue working, while those who take a career break to care for a disabled child and receive a pay cut when they return are £55,000[4] worse off in retirement compared to a normal working parent.

Meanwhile, further research from the not-for-profit company found that just under two thirds (64%) of parents of disabled children are worried about their future finances, according to new research from People’s Partnership[5].

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, it found more than a quarter (27%) of parents in the UK have at least one child with a long-term health condition, impairment or illness – impacting millions of families across the UK.

For those parents:
• Over half 53% of non-retired parents are not confident that they’ll have enough pension savings to live the lifestyle they want in retirement.
• Just one in ten (11%) parents of disabled children feel adequately supported by the Government or charities in caring for their children.

While the Carers’ Leave Act, which was became law in April, introduced five days unpaid carers’ leave, People’s Partnership is calling on employers to create the flexibility and workplace culture that allows parents to balance caring and working. It is also calling on the pensions industry to implement better access to financial planning resources and more robust support systems to help close the pension gap for parents with disabled children.

People’s Partnership has a Financial Wellbeing Hub[6] , which includes information for carers and works with a specialist organisation to help people, including carers, get back into work after a period of time away. It is calling on employers to implement flexible working policies, internal support groups and leave policies that are similar to maternity and paternity policies, but for parents of disabled children, to better support carers in their careers.
Nicola Sinclair, Head of Responsible Business at People’s Partnership, said:

“There is a dire need for more comprehensive support structures for parents caring for children with long-term health conditions. Better access to financial planning resources and robust support systems would help relieve some pressure on this forgotten group of people, but further action is needed if we are to avoid another pension gap widening further.

“While flexible working policies offer some relief, tailored support, rather than box ticking, is crucial for long-term financial security and improved retirement outcomes. It’s vital that employers who don’t follow the new flexible working laws are held accountable. We need to develop resources tailored to these employees who care for a disabled child, with a focus on combating stigma and creating more inclusive workplaces that allow them to remain in and return to employment. Our research shows that some parents of disabled children are facing poverty in retirement unless things change dramatically.”

Richard Kramer, Chief Executive of the national disability charity, Sense, said:

“The research highlights the stark reality for parents of disabled children, who face significant financial hardships due to their caregiving responsibilities.

“At Sense, we see firsthand the challenges these families face. Very few parents, who are struggling day to day, will have the luxury of thinking about retirement. So, it is little surprise that they’re at such a disadvantage when it comes to saving.

“Local and national government must commit long-term resource and funding to support families. And employers must do their bit too – creating more supportive environments with improved flexible working policies.

“We need to show that we value these incredible individuals in our communities.”

People’s Partnership undertook additional qualitative research and, through interviews with parents of children with disabilities, who were able to work, it found that reduced earnings through lack of career progression, having to take a lower paid part-time job, and often only having one household income; significantly hampered parent’s ability to save for their retirement[7]. However, often this is not the case, and parents are unable to return to work due to the demand of care.

The link to the report, which was commissioned and overseen by Fern Healey, Executive Business Partner at People’s Partnership, as part of her sponsored Master of Business (MBA) development. The report can be found here: Pension inequality – parents of disabled children | People’s Partnership ([8]


Maria Cook, aged 47, from Crawley, has a 15-year-old son Ryan, who is profoundly Autistic. Maria has been his full-time carer since birth, meaning she has been unable to return to work. Prior to having Ryan, Maria previously worked at Gatwick Airport as a Contract Manager for ICTS UK Ltd and then as a Duty Manager for G4S, from who she received a pension.

She said: “I grew up in a household where from a young age my father drummed it into me how crucial it was to save into your pension to set you up for retirement. With the amount of hours Ryan requires care, the Carers Allowance received from the DWP works out to something like 48p an hour, which has meant I haven’t been able to pay into my pension. Having a child that needs support for the rest of their life, combined with rising living costs and skyrocketing mortgage payments has meant my previous hope of a comfortable retirement will remain a distant dream.”

While some parents with disabled children find part-time or Carers Leave measures helpful, these measures are still unpaid. Maria thinks employers need to be doing more to help parents with disabled children.

She says: “A lot of employers, unless carers themselves, don’t understand the challenges carers face on a daily basis. Even parents who have support from their employers still struggle as there’s still so much stigma around being a carer. I think employers could be doing a lot more to better support carers, for both financial and emotional wellbeing.”