To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to encourage people to take up jobs as care assistants caring for (a) elderly and (b) disabled people. 
The Department is conducting a national recruitment campaign for social care to support employers. The campaign includes actions to encourage the recruitment of social carers. This aspect of the campaign, to undertake more work on the recruitment of social careworkers which includes care assistants for disabled and older people, will be stepped up during this year.The Government is funding a new human resource development specific grant to local Councils, worth £9.5 million, in 2003–04. One of the central purposes of this grant is to enable social care employers across the statutory, private and voluntary sectors to tackle problems of recruitment and retention.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department has had with (a) local authorities and (b) care agency companies regarding shortages of care assistants. 
While we have not directly had discussions with care agency companies, local authorities and independent sector service providers are represented on a number of groups that advise the Department on recruitment policy.