Issues related to paid work and care are of global importance, reflecting the twin pressures of population ageing and efforts to increase labour market participation. Informal carers of sick, disabled or older people can experience tensions between policies aimed at support for care and support for employment. This article discusses a study of carers’ decision-making around work and care, drawing on evidence from interviews with 80 working-age carers in England. Carers are not homogeneous; their circumstances and needs differ reflecting age, gender, ethnicity, labour market participation, and the condition and/or needs of the person they support. This diversity is illustrated by contrasting rural and urban carers’ decisions and experiences about work and care. Key factors that impact on carers’ decisions are: current and anticipated financial need; the constraints arising from receipt of carers’ and other means-tested income maintenance benefits; personal identity; job opportunities and scope for flexibility; social services provision; carers’ own health. Distance, travel times and transport are unique additional challenges for rural carers who (wish to) work. These difficulties are further intensified when they intersect with other factors such as the Carer's Allowance, the local labour market and social services provision. The findings are evaluated in terms of the adequacy of current government policy measures.