UNPAID carers who give up hours of their time to look after loved ones have been praised by a councillor.
Hartlepool councillor Ged Hall says people voluntarily looking after their friends and family save the country billions of pounds a year.
Officers at Hartlepool Borough Council say local authorities would be bankrupt if that level of support was withdrawn.
Coun Hall, portfolio holder for adult and public health services, praised the contribution of carers at a recent meeting.
He has also urged carers to attend meetings of Hartlepool Learning Disability Partnership Board.
Speaking at a meeting of his portfolio, Coun Hall said: “The issue of carers cannot be overstated.
“Unpaid work done by carers in social care is saving the country something like £90bn and that is thought to be the tip of the iceberg.
“There has been a long history of people that out of love and affection provide care on a 24-7 basis.
“Those people are not highlighted often enough.”
The Labour councillor is also co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board, which is made up of councillors, officers and representatives from organisations across Hartlepool.
The board meets regularly and holds informal themed sessions covering hate crime, health, jobs and employment.
Coun Hall added: “We have got more people coming along and it is important to get the message out to carers that they are very welcome.
“There is support there and a forum for people to discuss.”
The board meets once every two months and people and carers can come together to talk about their individual circumstances and highlight any issues that need addressing.
Neil Harrison, head of service adult social care, said: “We do have some really committed carers and their input is invaluable.”
Jill Harrison, assistant director of adult social care, said: “There is a lot of carers that we know about and an awful lot more that we don’t.
“We could potentially be bankrupt if that support is withdrawn.”
The next meeting of the partnership board is due to take place in March.
For more information about future meetings of the Learning Disability Partnership Board visit www.hartlepool.gov.uk/cil