New research reveals that few councils in England have outlined how they are fulfilling the duties required of them under the Care Act 2014, which came into force this April.
Under the Care Act local authorities have a duty to provide services to carers that prevent, reduce or delay them developing a need for support. But just 17 (13%) of the 132 local authorities contacted by Carers Trust stated that they are working to identify carers and, of the 23 councils that mentioned having a prevention strategy in place, few provided details on the support they are providing specifically to help carers.
Carers Trust made a Freedom of Information request to 147 local councils asking how they are meeting their new duties, and received responses from 132 councils. Only 10 (8%) of these responses explicitly referred to how councils will prevent, reduce and delay people from developing a need for support.
The information received showed that 38% of councils offered support through advice and information, and although this is an important form of support, it relies on carers identifying themselves as carers, recognising their own needs for support and finding out how to access this information.
Dr Moira Fraser, Director of Policy and Research for Carers Trust, said:
â€œThe Care Act brought in a vital duty to ensure carers are supported before they reach breaking point, not when they already have. Local authorities need to make it clear what their strategies are to ensure that carers are not left struggling because they havenâ€™t been identified and properly supported.â€
Barbara Keeley, Labour Shadow Minister for Older People, Social Care and Carers, added:
â€œWe want carers to know the different kinds of help and support that are available to them as soon as possible, not at the point when they have already burnt out and are desperate for help.â€
â€œDespite the Care Act coming into force in April 2015 the report tells us that only 27% of councils responding mentioned a prevention strategy.
â€œOnly 8% of councils said that they had a strategy in place to meet the new duty to carers. This does not represent adequate progress. Carers are individuals with their own specific needs and prevention strategies need to be put in place to ensure that all carers are given the right advice and support.
â€œWe know that councils are under increasing financial pressure with funding cuts of over Â£4.6 billion already made to social care budgets.
â€œWhen the Government creates new duties to carers for councils, it must also provide councils with the funding needed to provide a sustainable social care system. This is essential to enable councils to meet their duties to carers and to the people they care for.â€