£5m Fund to Improve Support for England’s Unpaid Carers Opening Soon

2nd July 2019

The Department for Health and Social Care has made £5 million available to improve support for carers.

We are seeking applications from organisations from a mix of sectors for projects that will help carers to be:

  • more recognised and connected
  • better able to juggle working and caring
  • better able to look after their own health and wellbeing

1. Background

Unpaid care is a vital part of a sustainable health and social care system, improving outcomes and quality of life for often vulnerable people. While being a carer can be rewarding, we know that it can also have substantial negative impacts. Poorer health and wellbeing outcomes are increasingly associated with caring as the intensity of the caring role increases. Self-reported poor health, depression and general feelings of stress are all higher among those caring for more than 35 hours per week.

With the shifts we are seeing in society, including our ageing population, caring will increasingly become a core part of family life for all of us. That is why we are carefully considering what more the government could do to support carers.

The government is committed to continuing to support carers to provide care as they would wish, and to do so in a way that supports their own health and wellbeing, employment and other life chances.

We are clear that support for carers needs to go beyond health and care services – and indeed beyond public services – to include whole communities and wider society. We want to see carer-friendly communities, where everything from our high streets to services, from transport to the attitudes we see reflected in the media, are more supportive of carers.

On 5 June 2018, the government published the Carers Action Plan (CAP) which sets out a cross-government programme of targeted work to support carers over the next 2 years. The plan puts a focus on delivery in the short-term and gives visibility to the work that is being done or is planned across government.

The CAP was informed by a call for evidence, which provided a rich and informative evidence base on the experiences of carers and the changes that they would like to see.

Through this, carers told us that:

  • public services often don’t engage effectively with carers, which leads to carer stress, unproductive use of carers’ time and missed opportunities to ensure quality care and services for the people they look after
  • many carers find it difficult to balance work, look after their own health and wellbeing and perform their caring duties
  • there is a need to raise awareness among employers, the public and professionals so that people are more aware of what carers do
  • there is a need for more carer-led and community-led support. Voluntary and community sector organisations provide a key role in supporting carers

The plan sets out a series of commitments that seek to raise societal awareness of carers and help create carer friendly communities by using innovative ideas to improve carers’ everyday experiences.

As part of this, the Department of Health and Social Care committed to investing £0.5 million in the Carer Innovations Fund. Ministers have subsequently taken the decision to significantly increase the available funding to £5 million.

2. The aim of the fund

The Carer Innovations Fund (‘the fund’) aims to support accessible, carer-friendly communities and public services and also seeks to provide evidence on effective interventions to support carers.

The fund seeks to identify and promote creative and innovative models that look beyond statutory services to ensure that carers are:

  • better recognised and connected
  • better able to juggle working and caring
  • better able to look after their own health and wellbeing

3. Who can apply

We are seeking to provide seed funding to a portfolio of ‘concept testing’ projects from organisations from a mix of sectors, including the voluntary and community sector, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), commercial sector etc.

We expect the projects will be able to demonstrate measurable impacts against the areas we hear from carers that they need additional support. These are to:

  • improve their health and wellbeing
  • increase their ability to juggle their work and caring responsibilities
  • increase their ability to take a break from their caring role
  • reduce the loneliness and social isolation experienced by carers

Through the development of technological solutions or community-based interventions, the projects might consider how to:

  • ensure carers have access to advice and information to support them in their caring role
  • increase the provision of carers’ breaks locally
  • connect carers with other carers and the wider community
  • prevent crises through early intervention

Organisations are invited to bid for up to £500,000 and will be expected to demonstrate:

  • why government funding is required in order for their proposals to be developed
  • that the proposal is a new approach to improving support for carers
  • knowledge of existing provision and the way that it currently fails to support carers
  • that strong partnership arrangements are in place from the outset between relevant organisations
  • how the intervention will be supported to be replicated or expanded
  • how the sustainability of the intervention will be achieved

4. The application process

The process for the fund will be divided into 3 phases:

  • phase 1: idea generation
  • phase 2: idea development
  • phase 3: idea implementation

On 12 June 2019, DHSC launched the fund. A prior information notice will be published shortly.

We will run an open market consultation exercise at this stage to share our plans on the application process and seek views on how it will work.

Potential bidders are invited to join a webinar (details below) to learn more about the fund and how to apply.

During phase 1 (idea generation), applicants will be invited to submit an expression of interest. Subject to the outcome of the market consultation, we expect that this stage will be opened before the end of June.

Details about the requirement will be available through the e-procurement portal BravoAdvantage.

Through the assessment of the applications received through phase 1, we will look to identify between 15 to 20 projects that will be awarded an initial funding installment of up to £25,000 to develop their idea (phase 2).

This initial funding will be awarded for organisations to further develop their proposals to demonstrate their feasibility. This funding will be available during the 2019 to 2020 financial year.

More information about the purpose of this stage and the requirement for the application will be published when the ‘expression of interest’ stage is launched.

Those projects that receive funding in phase 2 will be expected to demonstrate the potential of their intervention as part of the application process to be considered for further funding in phase 3 to implement the intervention. Further details about this stage of the application process will be published in due course.

The remaining budget for the fund will be allocated during this phase and will be available during 2019 to 2020 and 2021 to 2022. There is the potential that the funding will be profiled into the 2021 to 2022 financial year if it is clear that this would enable the interventions to achieve better value for money.

Please be aware that the process might be adapted following the open market consultation, so please review all the documentation when it is released.

5. Further information

We will be hosting 2 webinars on 19 June to outline more information about the purpose of the fund and to give more information about the application process and what organisations need to do.

You can register to join the webinars by following these links:

Places are limited and will be offered on a first come, first serve, basis.

If you are unable to reserve a place and wish to be added to a reserve list, please email carersinnovationfund@dhsc.gov.uk. We will place the presentation on the e-procurement portal BravoAdvantage after the events.

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