Census 2001, for the first time, asked a question about whether people provided unpaid care for a family member or friend and for how many hours. The resulting picture overall was one of a considerable amount of such care being provided - 5.2 million carers in England and Wales, including over a million providing more than 50 hours a week.
The more detailed picture shows some interesting facts about this contribution. For instance, over 225,000 people providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week state they are in 'not good health' themselves. More than half of the people providing this much care are over the age of 55, and it is at these ages that the 'not good health' rate is highest.
However, there are nearly 80,000 people aged 54 and under providing more than 50 hours of unpaid care per week, who state that their health was not good.
The age group where the largest proportion of people provide care is in the fifties. More than one-in-five of people aged 50-59 are providing some unpaid care. About one in four (24.6 per cent) women in this age group are providing some care compared with 17.9 per cent of men.
Many of the people providing care do paid work as well. Of the 15.2 million employees aged 16-74 in full-time work, 1.6 million are providing at least some unpaid care - 144,000 providing 50 or more hours a week. For full-time workers providing 50 or more hours care there is a larger proportion of men.
Of the nearly two million people aged 16-74 who are permanently sick or disabled, over a quarter of a million (273,000) provide some unpaid care for other people and 105,000 provide 50 or more hours care.