HEREFORDSHIRE Council is close to letting volunteer and charity groups “take a lead” to help tackle its toughest challenge.

The latest projected overspend on the ever-rising commissioning budget for adult social care already comes close to £8 million by the end of the financial year.

A carers conference heard Councillor Nick Nenadich, health and wellbeing cabinet support member, say the council was now close to telling the voluntary and third sectors: “you take a lead on it”.

The conference was told that the county’s newly formed health and wellbeing board was working on a carers strategy with the number of carers in “one capacity or another” now estimated at 30,000 – a sizeable number of whom are young or even classed as minors.

But Coun Nenadich warned that for all the goodwill, the success of any such strategy still came down to “cold cash” with available funding tight and about to get tighter.

Organised by the Association for Care Training, the conference at Hereford United’s Starlight Rooms, was a National Dignity Day event with Falklands hero Simon Weston as guest speaker.

Other speakers addressed the need for employers to recognise the number of carers in the county in adapting workplace policies and outline initiatives promoting dignity and supporting carer needs.