Dragon’s Den star Hilary Devey backs campaign for unpaid carers

New Dragon’s Den star Hilary Devey is backing the Give Carers a Break campaign to push Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to give England’s five million unpaid carers the support they desperately need.

The campaign by the country’s two leading carers’ charities, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care, aims to persuade PCTs to use Government-allocated funding of £400m1 for breaks and other help for carers.

Millionaire business-woman Hilary, a long-term supporter of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: ‘As a former carer and a business-woman it makes perfect sense to me that carers should be supported in this way. Breaks from caring responsibilities make all the difference to the carers’ mental and physical health and well-being. It’s a sound investment that saves money in the long run because without breaks many carers are not able to continue as their health deteriorates and they end up needing care or hospitalisation themselves.’

Research from the two charities indicates that the vast majority of PCTs are failing to show how they will be spending the cash on carer services – in complete contradiction to government guidelines3.

Nine out of ten (91%) PCTs still haven’t committed to using the funding to support carers. And while over half (54%) said they will revise their plans to support carers, carers fear they will miss out again if PCTs aren’t held to account.

Liz Fenton, Chief Executive, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers said, ‘As part of this campaign we’re calling on the Government to ensure every PCT spends their allocated budget supporting carers. Because the money is not ‘ring-fenced’, cash-strapped PCTs are not obliged to spend the money on carers and are in danger of diverting the funds elsewhere.

‘We applaud those like Sunderland PCT which has worked with Sunderland Carers’ Centre to give carers the break they deserve by investing £630,000 for extra services to support them.’

Karen Holdsworth-Canon a carer from Surrey said: ‘I have been a carer for 18 years and I am exhausted, over-tired and stressed. Caring is a huge responsibility that consumes my life seven days a week. A daily break for me is essential. I get help for an hour a day, five days a week. That hour enables me to do the basics like have a shower and get dressed, cook and eat a meal and sometimes have a sleep. Whatever break is offered to a carer it needs to be regular, affordable, consistent and available. I would like more of a break, an afternoon off every month, a few days holiday a year but when I ask social services or the NHS, I am always being made to feel like I am asking for the impossible dream!’

Anne Roberts, Chief Executive, Crossroads Care added: ‘We’re calling on Primary Care Trusts, who have not yet revised their plans for supporting carers in the light of the funding allocation, to work in partnership with local carers’ organisations to use the money within their allocations to support carers through breaks and other forms of help.’

The overwhelming majority of PCTs (82%) claimed they had worked with carers’ organisations or carers to develop plans and budgets but local carers’ organisations dispute this figure saying that nearly half (40%) of PCTs did not engage with them at all.
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain this data from PCTs in England.

Read the report: Any breakthrough for carers?

Find out more about the Give Carers a Break campaign

For further information, please contact the press team

Published 14/07/2011