To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the extra costs imposed on local authorities in Buckinghamshire in the provision of (a) social services and (b) residential long-term care as a result of the increase in the national minimum wage. 
I have been asked to reply.The independent Low Pay Commission has examined the impact of the national minimum wage in successive reports to the Government. In their third report they estimated that the introduction of the minimum wage had increased the wage bill in residential care by between 1 and 2 per cent. In their fourth and most recent report they estimated that their recommended increase in the minimum wage rate for 1 October 2003 would increase the wage bill in the social care sector by up to 0.5 per cent. No breakdown of these figures is available by area or by public/private sector.Resources for the social care sector are now set to increase by an average of 6 per cent. per annum in real terms from 2003–04 to 2005–06.