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Consultation informs UK carer strategy

A consultation involving the UK's top brass should help create a programme of support for the country's six million carers, say MPs.

The Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Health Minister Ivan Lewis took part in the discussion which will inform the new Carers Strategy to be published later this year.

Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said: "Britain's carers are an immense force and I want to thank them for the tremendous work they do, especially given the huge challenges and pressures they face.

"We know that supporting carers is not just the right thing to do, but vital to ensuring the most vulnerable people in our communities have the care they need when they need it.

"I have spent today listening to our carers, volunteers, charities and community groups and have heard about the pressures that families and carers are under. What I have heard today, and what carers throughout the country have told us, will form the basis of our new carers strategy."

A national helpline is to be made available for carers this summer and £25m has been made available to local authorities in England to provide short-term cover for carers in emergencies.

Some £5m funding is to support a programme that provides vital training for carers to develop the skills they need to protect those in their care.

Secretary of State Alan Johnson said: "Carers are the hidden heroes of society. They selflessly contribute their time and money to caring for someone and ask little in return.

"Today's event has been about listening to the experts - carers themselves - about what we can do to improve their lives. Our job is to take what we have heard and learnt and ensure that our new strategy builds on this and the progress we have made."

Department of Health