England’s six million carers will have access to a dedicated helpline and information service under proposals in the white paper.
The helpline, which could be run by a charity, would provide information on legal entitlements, contact numbers, training and advice on benefits.
The paper also contains a guarantee that short-term, home-based respite support will be made available for carers in crisis or emergency situations in every council area.
It also pledges to allocate specific funding for the creation of an “expert carers programme” to provide health care training for carers.
While the exact amount of funding has not been revealed, health secretary Patricia Hewitt indicated that money would be set aside for carers’ services.
Jo Williams, chief executive of Mencap, welcomed the promise of better respite support. “Six out of 10 families are getting no short-break service at all or receiving one that is so minimal it does not meet their need, pushing them to breaking point.”
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK, said it was “vital” for the government to back up the promises with the necessary resources.