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Concern over missing money

07 August 2009
Carers UK is concerned that £150 million given to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) is not being spent on its intended purpose of giving carers a break.

Carers in England are being denied short breaks promised under the National Carers Strategy because dedicated NHS funding is not being spent on services. Research shows that the PCTs are unaware of the funding and the expectation of funding carers' breaks.

In June 2008 the National Strategy for Carers announced £150 million over two years for Primary Care Trusts to fund breaks for carers. GP practices within Primary Care Trusts are often the first place many carers go when they are run down, tired and need a break. The money was directed to Primary Care Trusts to encourage them to work strategically with Local Authority Social Services and provide much needed breaks for carers.

Carers UK, together with the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Caring for Carers, has written to the Chief Excutive of the NHS David Nicholson, asking him to issue clear guidance to PCTs on providing short breaks. In the letter the carers' organisations tell the NHS chief that "Carers tell us that they are still waiting to see whether the National Carers Strategy will have an impact on their lives. In many areas they are very disappointed that the new funding for breaks services, which was one of the headline announcements for the National Carers Strategy, does not appear to have been delivered."

Carers UK has encouraged local campaigning carer groups to ask their local PCT about their plans and how they are going to spend this money. Despite the fact it was included in the NHS operating framework for 2009-10, which sets NHS priorities for the year, many carers groups are reporting that the money isn't getting through.

Our research has found:

PCTs unaware of the funding and the expectations being placed on them.

PCTs unclear about how much has been allocated or denying that new money has been allocated.

Some PCTs being grateful for the information we have provided but not able to take action this late in the planning cycle.

PCTs citing budget restrictions for not making any funds available and stating that carers are not a priority.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said "Funding has only been available since April and some PCTs may still be putting together plans to implement this policy, but our research shows that in many areas there is no progress at all and little prospect of this improving during 2010-11. The money might have been made available on 1 April but the announcement was made in June last year. We would have expected trusts to have plans in place before the funding was released.

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