The final instalment in Carer Trust’s research into how primary care trusts (PCTs) have been using Government funding to support breaks for carers has been published today. 

We’ve already given MPs and our Network Partners a sneak preview at a special event in Portcullis House, London, last week. More than 100 people were at the reception to hear Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, outline the findings, which have today been released in full, and as an executive summary.

The report comes out on the same day that the Office of National Statistics releases findings from the 2011 Census, which show that the number of unpaid carers in England and Wales has risen by more than 500,000 to 5.8million. Of these, more than 2million were giving 20 or more hours of care a week.  

So what’s the report all about? Well, in 2010 the Government allocated an extra £400m over four years (2011-2015) to provide breaks for carers. In annual reports since then we’ve shown that PCTs have consistently failed to show how they are using that money to support carers. 
 
Our latest research shows that there continues to be a lack of transparency and accountability from PCTs over the provision of carer breaks and how much they are spending on support for carers. Breaks are crucial for safeguarding a carer’s physical and mental health, allowing them to continue with their caring role.
 
From a random sample of 50 PCTs, Carers Trust found that only 12 have shown that they have fully met all requirements set out in the NHS Operating Framework 2012-13. A key requirement of this framework is that PCTs must publish both budgets and plans to show how they are providing carers breaks, yet less than half (24) had achieved this. 
 
Other findings from the Carers breaks on the brink? report show that, of the 50 PCTs surveyed: 

  • 14 failed to publish a plan or budget
  • Six published a plan only
  • Six just published a budget

Unless we know how PCTs are allocating money for breaks, there’s no way that we, carers, or other organisations that support carers can hold them to account.