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Community Care Grants

Volume 175: debated on Monday 2 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the budget for community care grants in the latest financial year for which figures are available.

Community care grants are essential to integrate people back into the community. How will cuts in grant affect that integration? How will the grants enable people to obtain suitable housing in order to allow them to return to the community? What is the Minister's view about the role of housing providers? Will they be an essential partner in community care schemes and planning or merely an afterthought?

The budget for community care grant has not been cut but increased for the current year. I hope that as we develop our policies for care in the community, which we aim to introduce in 1991, there will be increased co-operation between social services departments, which will be involved increasingly in the provision of community care, and local housing departments so that proper arrangements can be made for those leaving institutions.

My right hon. Friend will know that community care grants are available only to those on income support. Many who would benefit from them receive invalidity benefit or other benefit and are therefore disqualified. Will he sympathetically consider extending the grants to other members of the community who would benefit from them?

I shall consider my hon. Friend's suggestion. There are administrative advantages in limiting community care grants to those who are on income support, and there are resource implications, but I have noted my hon. Friend's point.

If the social fund is so successful, why are so many disabled people now trapped in the jaws of loan sharks? Would not it much reduce dependence on community care grants if the Government quickly accepted the social security commissioners' decision, which was reported last week, in the important test case for severe disability premium of Simon Crompton, of Greater Manchester, which is estimated to benefit 30,000 other disabled people? What action is the Minister taking to identify them?

We are considering the implications of that judgment. The fact that loans under the social fund are interest free is likely to remove people from rather than hand them over to the loan sharks.