Reconciliation of unpaid care and employment is an increasingly important societal, economic and policy issue, both in the UK and internationally. Previous research shows the effectiveness of formal social care services in enabling carers to remain in employment. Using quantitative and qualitative data collected from carers and the person they care for in 2013 and 2015, during a period of cuts to adult social care in England, we explore barriers experienced to receipt of social care services. The main barriers to receipt of services identified in our study were availability, characteristics of services such as quality, and attitudes of carer and care-recipient to receiving services. These barriers have particular implications for carers' ability to reconcile care and employment.