Government announces £400 million for carers’ respite breaks

As part of its new vision for adult social care, the government has announced £400 million to be spent on respite for carers through the NHS.  This amount will be spread over the next four years allowing those who care for vulnerable family and friends a break for themselves. According to the plan, the state will also arrange a paid carer for the duration of the break.

Included in the same vision, is the plan to introduce “personal budgets” for everyone by 2013. Personal budgets will give people more flexibility in terms of choice and control over social care services received. Carers will be able to tailor services to meet their specific needs including taking respite breaks such as holidays or hobbies.

Announcing the funding, care services minister Paul Burstow said “The Coalition Government’s vision for social care will deliver on our manifesto commitment to provide guaranteed respite care by making over £400million available in additional funding over the next four years to the hundreds of thousands of carers who work over 50 hours a week.”

In emphasizing the importance of a well-earned respite break for carers, Burstow said “We will also go further than ever before in ensuring carers decide themselves what they want to do to take a break from caring. This is why we are ensuring that breaks are delivered through direct payments or personal health budgets”

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has welcomed the £400 million for respite breaks but warns that it might not be used for its intended purpose as it is not ring-fenced.

Chief executive Carole Cochrane said: “Without these vital breaks, carers can often reach breaking point where they can no longer continue, and their own physical and mental health deteriorates as result.

“However we are concerned that the money in today’s announcement has not been ringfenced, as in the past, money earmarked for carers’ breaks has been spent elsewhere.

“In 2009-10 and 2010-11, GBP150 million was pledged for carers’ breaks, but our research found that most primary care trusts failed to spend the money on carers and instead used it elsewhere.”

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