Primary care trusts will have to prove they are spending enough on supporting carers, care services minister Phil Hope has said.

Additionally, the joint commissioning of social care by PCTs and local authorities is likely to be made mandatory in order to drive integration between the sectors.

It isn’t about saying account for every pound, it is saying what are you doing to help carers in your area and is that good

Mr Hope yesterday addressed a roundtable discussion on social care, hosted by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, and including representatives from the other main parties and health and social care stakeholders.

The event follows revelations earlier this week that only 23 per cent of the £50m allocated to improve services for carers was actually spent on doing so.

Mr Hope said that while the funding for carers was not ringfenced, PCTs “should be held to account” to ensure they were giving carer support appropriate priority over this financial year and the next.

Speaking to HSJ afterwards, Mr Hope said: “I do think we’re right to remove ringfencing to give local people that flexibility to respond to local needs but we’ve also got to make them [PCTs] accountable for what they’re doing.”

He said: “Through the strategic health authorities we will ask all primary care trusts to describe what priority they are giving to carers – what their outcomes are, what they are trying to achieve.

“It isn’t about saying account for every pound, it is saying what are you doing to help carers in your area and is that good,” he said.

“If we see they are not giving it priority and haven’t shown what they’re achieving through their plans…. then we can we say well no that’s not good enough, go away and do it again,” he added.

Mr Hope also said the white paper would bring in measures to drive greater intervention between health and social care. For example, it was likely to include “mandating people to cooperate” via joint commissioning and joint performance frameworks.

He said: “GPs and social care systems and acute care really need to be working together. Primary care trusts are a critical part of that of that commissioning process. We can’t just rely on a good thing here and a good thing there.

“There’s obviously lots of good examples but how do you make sure that’s happening more consistently across the whole system. That’s something else I think we need to address in the white paper,” he said.