This week is Carers Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and recognise the contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. And I am joining carers at a local event to listen to their views on caring responsibilities. Like some of my constituents, there are 6.5 million people across the UK who are carers.
I absolutely recognise the valuable contribution made by carers, many of whom spend a significant proportion of their time caring for others. Indeed, a tenth of adults in the UK provide unpaid care for a friend or family member, and these people should be supported in the invaluable work they do.
That is why a new cross-Government National Carers Strategy is being introduced to look at what more can be done to support existing and future carers. After a lengthy consultation with carers themselves, the Government recently announced a two-year programme of support for carers. This includes support for young carers, effective action to help carers balancing their caring and employment responsibilities, as well as ensuring that health and social care services are responsive to their needs.
The NHS Long Term Plan, published following the announcement of a £33.9 billion cash increase to annual NHS funding by 2023/24, commits to improving the ways in which unpaid carers are identified, in order to strengthen support for them.
In the meantime, the Government is continuing to support the implementation of improved rights for carers, enshrined in the Care Act 2014. I welcome the fact that benefits to support vulnerable and disabled people, including Carer's Allowance, are exempt from the freeze on working-age benefits.
The Government is continuing to provide local councils with the money they need to provide social care services and support carers. In 2017, £2 billion was announced for social care, and a further £150 million was given to local authorities to meet their social care responsibilities during 2018.
The Government is also due to publish a Green Paper on social care. This paper will complement the new carers strategy and address how to place carers at the heart of discussions to build a long term and sustainable settlement for social care. It will include a clear strategic focus on unpaid care and how our society can support all carers in their valuable efforts.