Government funds promised to help carers are not reaching their destination, research has suggested.
Some 80% of funding pledged by the government in 2008 has been spent elsewhere or not even allocated, data from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care revealed.
In addition, when funds are handed down to PCTs, they are not ringfenced, leaving the health agencies able to spend the funds elsewhere.
The two charities argue that approximately £40m out of the £50m pledged has not gone to carers, with 81 out of 130 PCTs quizzed under the Freedom of Information Act revealing that the cash was being spent elsewhere – for example, paying debts, or just not allocated.
Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: "Once again, the recognition of carers and their significant contribution is not seen as a priority by local health trusts, even though the country's six million carers already save the government an estimated £87bn a year through caring at home."
Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb, said: "When these types of funding problems are exposed ministers always duck responsibility by blaming the decisions on local NHS trusts.
"This is yet more evidence of why we need locally elected health boards to make the NHS accountable to the people it serves."