Press release

New government fund to support ‘shared family life’ scheme

The Shared Lives scheme is receiving extra funding to help more isolated or vulnerable adults gain more independence.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The Cabinet Office has announced that a scheme providing support for disabled adults and older people will receive more than £140,000 to expand its services. ‘Shared Lives’ arrangements are a model of social care where adults that may be isolated or in vulnerable situations are placed with supportive families, rather than in residential homes or with visiting carers, giving those in need of support a greater degree of flexibility and independence.

There are already 10,000 Shared Lives carers in the UK, but with an aging population it is hoped the new approach will form a more prominent part of the care landscape across the country. The grant will help Shared Lives Plus, the national support organisation, to employ a development officer to recruit more carers, measure and evaluate the impact of their work and raise awareness of their distinctive approach to care.

The grant is the first award from the Cabinet Office’s £14 million Innovation Fund, administered and part-funded by Nesta. The fund looks to address persistent social challenges and invite people to submit new ideas, partnerships and existing models that mobilise large numbers of people to tackle a given issue in society.

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

We are looking to support new ideas that give people the chance to help others. This bold scheme supports host families who want to open up their homes to provide compassion and independence to vulnerable adults who need care. We are really pleased to give it the chance to prove itself.

Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus said:

Shared Lives is a way for people to share family and community life. It often results in people who need support doing things for the first time in their lives which others take for granted, such as joining a local club or community group, making friends or going on holiday. Most people don’t realise there is a Shared Lives scheme in almost every area now.

This funding will help many more older people to benefit, such as people with dementia who could visit a Shared Lives carer rather than visiting a day centre and people with learning disabilities or mental health problems who could live with a Shared Lives carer and their family, rather than living in a care home.

The Cabinet Office and Nesta are encouraging those with other innovative social action ideas to express their interest.

Notes to editors

Shared Lives is used by:

  • people with learning disabilities
  • people with mental health problems
  • older people
  • care leavers
  • disabled children becoming young adults
  • parents with learning disabilities and their children
  • people who misuse substances
  • (ex-)offenders

Carers are paid a modest amount to cover some of their time and expenses There are already 10,000 Shared Lives carers in the UK, recruited, trained and approved by 152 local schemes, which are regulated by the government’s social care inspectors.

The £14 million Innovation Fund, administered by Nesta, is part of the Centre for Social Action, a Cabinet Office initiative. Over 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 the Centre for Social Action will invest around £36 million to provide support and finance to charities, public services and civil society organisations who want to mobilise people to take part in social action.

Nesta (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) is the UK’s innovation foundation, helping people and organisations bring great ideas to life. It does this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. It is an independent charity.

For media enquiries about the Innovation Fund please contact Sarah Reardon at Nesta on 020 7438 2606 or email

CAB 079-13

Published 19 August 2013