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This Government welcomes the Age UK report, "Invisible but Invaluable". We do recognise the valuable contribution made by older carers, many of whom spend a significant proportion of their life providing unpaid support to family members or friends. Local authorities and the national health service have a vital role to play in identifying and supporting more carers.
In November 2010, the Government published "Recognised, valued and supported: next steps for the Carers Strategy". The Strategy is a cross Government strategy and shows how Government intend to support carers in terms of the outcomes and plans of health, social care, education and other services across Government. Two of the key recommendations were:
supporting those with caring responsibilities to identify themselves as carers at an early stage, recognising the value of their contribution and involving them from the outset both in designing local care provision and in planning individual care packages; and enabling those with caring responsibilities to fulfil their educational and personalised support both for carers and those they support, enabling them to have a family and community life.
These have been supported by:
the Department has provided funding of over £63,000 plus VAT for the training of up to 200 general practitioners (GPs) and practice staff in the current financial year. As a result of this training, GPs and practice staff will be better able to identify and support carers; and an additional £400 million in primary care trust (PCT) baselines to support the provision of breaks for carers. The "Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2011-12" indicates that PCTs should pool budgets with local authorities to provide carers' breaks, as far as possible, via direct payments or personal health budgets. This money is not ring fenced but for 2011-12, PCTs should agree policies, plans and budgets to support carers with local authorities and local carers' organisations, and make them available to local people.