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£255m boost for carers

10 June 2008

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The government today launched a new multimillion pound cross-cutting strategy to improve the lives of Britain’s army of carers.

The Carers Strategy is supported by £255m of new investment to implement some immediate steps.

This money is in addition to the £224m per annum given to Local Authorities through the Carers Grant, the extra £340m to be spent by the government supporting the families of disabled children over the next three years, and £2.7m a year to fund a new information helpline and website for carers.

Today’s announcement means:

  • £150m extra investment to expand short breaks for carers over two years.
  • £38m towards supporting carers to enter or reenter the job market with more guidance for employers, and more flexible and accessible skills training for carers.
  • Piloting annual health checks for carers to help them stay mentally and physically well.
  • Training for GPs to recognise the role that carers play and pressures on the carers’ own health.
  • £6m towards improving the support for young carers and more protection from inappropriate caring for young people.
  • Giving carers greater choice and control over their lives by encouraging increased use of direct payments – often, carers’ lives will be improved if services to the person for whom they care are better tailored to their needs.

Health minister Ivan Lewis said:

“In the next decade elder care will be the new childcare and it is essential our policies properly meet the scale of the challenge.

“Thousands of carers, irrespective of their roles or postcode, have told us they want a support system that is on their side, rather than a constant struggle and the right to a life of their own alongside their caring responsibilities.

“Today’s historic announcement is the beginning of a 10-year programme to give carers the recognition and status they deserve.”

There are currently about 5.2 million carers in England and Wales, and nearly half of them provide more than 20 hours care a week and over a million provide more than 50 hours care per week. The demand for care is expected to rise in the future, with the number of people over 85, those most in need of care, rising by over 50% in the next 10 years.

Department of Health