Pictured: Glen Sanger, who looks after his mother who has dementia, with other Caring with Confidence course members
The government has today scrapped a multi-million pound support package for carers, Community Care has learned.
It has pulled the plug on the Caring with Confidence programme, worth £4.4m a year.
The Department of Health scheme was designed to improve support for carers. It was due to reach 27,000 carers by the end of March 2011.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: “Getting the right support to carers is a priority. The financial outlook is extremely challenging and I am carefully scrutinising all budgets. I believe this money can be spent smarter, which is why I plan to offer more support to carers’ organisations and for carers’ training.”
The contract for the Caring with Confidence programme was due to close at the end of March next year. It will now close in September, six months earlier than anticipated.
The contract was worth £2m in 2007-8, and £4.4m per annum thereafter.
The programme is being delivered by a consortium of five organisations – Carers UK, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Crossroads Caring for Carers, Partners in Policymaking and the Expert Patients Projects Community Interest Company.
Simon Knighton, chief executive of Caring with Confidence, said: “We are mystified as to the rationale why the termination date has being brought forward as it does not save the government money. We are asking ministers for more information.”
Sally Adams, a freelance group facilitator for the Caring with Confidence programme in East Anglia who is about to lose her employment, said: “Only yesterday a carer said to me that this project has turned their life around. The day before a carer told me that the course had given her the confidence to take up a course to help her get back into work.
“The project has been an unparalleled success at empowering carers and improving their physical and mental health,” she added. “The evidence is there. Burstow is taking money away from local charities that are training carers. My project empowers and trains carers to make the most of their own resources. It breaks social isolation and leads on to self-help networks.”
During the televised prime ministerial debates before the election David Cameron and called carers the “unsung heroes” of the UK.
The Conservative manifesto said: “The UK’s six million carers play an indispensable role in looking after friends or family members who need support. Not only do they provide help to some of the most vulnerable people in society, the unpaid work they do contributes £87bn worth of value a year – sometimes at the cost of carers’ finances and even their health.”
“The manifesto also pledged that the Conservatives would “support carers, and those they look after, by providing direct payments to help with care needs and by improving access to respite care”.