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I do not have the facts and figures about the hon. Gentleman's particular local authority, but I know that local authorities have had a record 45 per cent. increase in Government funding in real terms over the past 12 years. As a result, local authorities have improved dramatically the quality of a whole range of services in their areas. In addition, the carers grant that I mentioned has been distributed to local authorities. I do not have the figures on how much his local authority has received, but I assure him that it will have had some. I hope that he will put pressure on his local authority, which is almost certainly controlled by members of his own party, to ensure that it gives to local carers the priority that we expect in its assessment and delivery of services, and that it makes the right choices to provide resources to the most vulnerable and caring people in our society.
We want innovation to be at the heart of everything that we do for carers, so, as part of the carers strategy, we are setting up 24 sites to test, demonstrate and evaluate good practice in support for carers. That action will improve outcomes for carers and provide value for money, and the sites will look at health and well-being checks for carers, breaks for carers and how the NHS can better support them.
Yesterday, on the first anniversary of the carers strategy, we launched Carers Direct, which will give people from all backgrounds—young, old and those with disabilities—access to the information and advice that they need. They will be able to support and talk to each other through the website.
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