Primary care trusts are failing to spend the bulk of the £50m allocated to them this year to fund short breaks for carers, charities claimed today.
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care said responses from 81 PCTs – just over half the total – to a Freedom of Information request indicated about £40m of the funding had not been spent on carers.
Funding not identified
The funding was given to PCTs as part of last year’s carers strategy, but the money was rolled up into their general budgets and the Department of Health did not identify how much was allocated to each PCT.
The two charities calculated individual allocations based on the general funding formula for PCTs and then asked trusts how much they had increased spending on carers by from 2008-9 to 2009-10.
They found that the increases in spending represented only about one-fifth of the estimated allocations made through the carers strategy.
DH must be explicit
Gordon Conochie, policy and parliamentary officer for both charities, said there was a clear need for the DH to be explicit about how much had been allocated to each PCT, saying most trusts had found the estimated allocations provided by the charities useful.
He said the charities had three key recommendations:-
- The Department of Health should make public individual PCT allocations for the £100m that is being distributed through the strategy in 2010-11.
- PCTs should engage with local authorities and carers organisations about how the money should be spent.
- PCTs should then publicise how they spend the money.
Conochie added: “Part of the reason that the money was given to PCTs in the first place was to chance the culture of the NHS which has not been so supporting of carers. The DH needs to make clear that without sustaining carers the NHS will have two patients to deal with, not one.”
He said areas of particular concern were those which lacked local carers support networks – which tend to be run by Crossroads or the Princess Royal Trust – where PCTs were less engaged with carers issues.
He warned: “Just giving them more money without direction will not help them engage with carers.”
Carers groups urge PCTs to spend cash on short breaks