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"Working For A Pittance" (Television Programme)

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the inquiries set in hand following the Granada Television programme "Working for a Pittance" are now complete; and if he will make a statement.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the results of his inquiries into the Granada Television programme entitled "Working for a Pittance".

Yes. Following the screening of the programme, Granada TV kindly made available to me the research material on which the programme was based, I then asked my Department's social work service to make full inquiries of the authorities responsible for the centres where filming had taken place. The outcome of their inquiries is a report to me that the centres provide a balanced programme of activities suitable to the varying needs of the people who attend them.I also sought the comments of the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation and the Association of Directors of Social Services. All of these bodies commented adversely on the failure of the programme to show aspects of the work of day centres and adult training centres other than industrial type work. It was also emphasised to me that the views of people attending centres had not been sought.My Department has been obtaining the comments of the local authority associations and other interested bodies on the pamphlet produced by the National Development Group for the Mentally Handicapped on "Day Services for Mentally Handicapped Adults" with a view to the issue of revised guidance on design and good practice. This will replace the existing model of good practice issued in 1968. The revised guidance will cover, among other things, the role of advanced work training in adult training centres.Work is also in hand on design guidance for other local authority day centres.The question of payments to people attending day centres and adult training centres is a complex one. These centres are intended to provide training or occupation, not sheltered employment, but local authorities are free to make whatever payments they deem appropriate for work done in or attendance at centres. In practice, I understand that in most cases the maximum paid is linked to the supplementary benefit earnings disregard. I shall ensure that the effect of the disregard in these circumstances is borne in mind in the review of the supplementary benefit scheme as a whole.