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Community Care

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 18 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about the implementation in Wales of the proposals in the White Paper, "Caring for People".

The Government are committed to the policies set out in the White Paper "Caring for People" which are designed to improve social care and related health services by ensuring that they are properly targeted to meet the needs of individual people. Nonetheless, in the light of the disappointing failure of many local authorities to budget for reasonable increases in expenditure, it would be unwise, and contrary to the interests of community chargepayers, to implement all the proposals of "Caring for People" simultaneously on 1 April 1991.Our wholehearted commitment to the implementation of the proposals in the White Paper will be maintained through a programme of phased implementation, the full details of which will be discussed with the social services and health authorities and other interests in Wales, within the following framework.We have well established and widely respected all-Wales strategies to secure the development of new patterns of services for people with mental handicaps and mental illnesses. We have already announced record levels of additional expenditure in support of those developments. Under the mental handicap strategy, grants from the Welsh Office will total £26.1 million in the current year, an increase of some £7.5 million compared with 1989–90. Under the mental illness strategy we are making available additional grant of over £2 million, on top of recurrent specific allocations for this purpose made since 1978–79 of over £13 million. These strategies will continue.To combat drug misuse, we have made available £1.6 million this year to local statutory and voluntary agencies and £350,000 for the central prevention campaign and for needle and syringe exchange schemes. We are providing £150,000 of additional revenue this year for local projects to combat alcohol misuse. These initiatives will be maintained and will continue to support prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in residential and non-residential settings.We have also already announced expenditure of some £300,000 this year and next to support demonstration projects in each county on the development of assessment and case management for individuals in need of care. In addition, my Department is making available £163,000 under a support programme for management development and post-qualifying training in personal social services. We are reviewing with the local authorities and the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work how this can be strengthened in the light of policy developments including the "Caring for People" White Paper.As announced in the White Paper, from 1 April 1991 carefully targeted grants will be available to encourage the development of more flexible forms of domiciliary care for elderly people and those with physical or sensory disabilities. These will replace the current range of grants that the Welsh Office makes available for these and related purposes under the elderly initiative, the urban programme and the joint finance arrangements. Details will be announced shortly.Also from next April, we propose that social services authorities will be required to establish the new inspection units and complaints procedures. Development work will continue on the new planning arrangements, assessment and case management procedures, and the realignment of commissioning and providing responsibilities within social services departments.From 1 April 1992 we intend to implement the new planning arrangements and to continue with the remaining development work.From 1 April 1993 we intend to introduce generally the new arrangements for assessment and case management, together with the changes in the financial arrangements for people needing public support for care. These will require the social services authorities to meet the costs of care whether in people's own homes or in residential care and nursing homes, where they decide that such care would be appropriate, and will involve the transfer of the relevant resources from the social security programme. Also from 1 April 1993 the tests of resources and personal allowances for people in local authority and independently run homes will be brought into line, and the White Paper proposals on preservation of benefit rights for people already in homes will be implemented.Magnificent strides have been made over recent years by local agencies working with the Welsh Office on our existing strategies and initiatives, and in development work since the publication of the White Paper, to ensure a coherent framework and arrangements on the ground for the delivery of quality health and social care for those in need. That work will continue and be enhanced under the phased programme for development which I have outlined. I am confident that the local and health authorities and other interests in Wales, including representatives of the voluntary and private sectors and of users and carers, will continue to work closely with the Welsh Office to ensure its successful implementation.