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Day Centres

Volume 126: debated on Wednesday 27 January 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to encourage joint funding of day centres for elderly people in Scotland.

The provision of services for groups such as the elderly is a matter for individual health boards and local authorities in the light of local needs and circumstances.

My right hon. and learned Friend has encouraged health boards and local authorities to make full use of joint funding. Places for the elderly in day centres provided by local authorities and voluntary bodies had increased since 1979 by 61 per cent. to a total of 5,690 at March 1986.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I hope he accepts that in Scotland, and in my constituency in particular, there is a high proportion of elderly within the community. In Strathclyde region, where there is a first-class, prudent authority, as instanced by the recommendation to increase its rate for the next financial year by only one pence, will the Minister consider seriously injecting further finance into the health board so that it may co-operate with the local authority in providing more of these much-needed centres?

The increased finance that has been provided to the health boards since 1,979 amounts to some 26 per cent. in real terms. The increased finance made available to the local authorities for this purpose as part of their social work services has increased in real terms since 1979 by some 36 per cent. That is a record to be proud of, and the hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that considerable progress has been made.

Is the Minister aware of the concern in Ayrshire about the proliferation in the number of old people's homes and nursing homes, causing consequent strain on the Health Service and social work services? Has he seen the proposals put forward by Age Concern Scotland about the registration of private nursing homes and old people's homes because of the concern over the exploitation of old people to provide profit for the owners of some of these homes? Will he consider legislation along the lines proposed by Age Concern Scotland?

The hon. Gentleman does the private sector, which provides excellent care for many people in Scotland, and proportionately more in England, a great disservice by implying that, because these homes are private, there is any question of lower standards. As he will know, the Government intend to make regulations to ensure that the highest standards continue to be maintained.