Mrs. Renée Short asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make special provision for social services departments to enable them to expand care facilities for mentally handicapped children who no longer have parents or grandparents to look after them.
It is for each local authority to determine the appropriate level of care facilities for individual mentally handicapped children, as they are best placed to decide on priorities in the light of overall local circumstances. We are neither empowered, nor persuaded that there is a need, to make special allocations to local authorities, but NHS joint finance is available for selected personal social service schemes including schemes for mentally handicapped children. As indicated in my hon. Friend's reply on 6 February to my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Galley) at column 611 the recommendations in the recent report on services for handicapped children by the Department's Social Work Service — a copy of which is in the Library — are designed to assist local authorities to remedy known deficiencies by making more cost-effective use of the resources available.