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Disabled Children

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance his Department gives to local authorities about charging for domiciliary care services to disabled children; [111125](2) how many local authorities are charging for services to disabled children; and what criteria they are using for doing so. [111049]

The legal position, as set out at section 29 of the Children Act 1989, is that where a local authority provides services, with the exception of advice, guidance or counselling, they may make such charges for that service as they consider reasonable.The Government recognise that this may put undue pressure on low income families and this is why the Act provides that no one receiving income support, any element of child tax credit other than the family element, working tax credit or an income-based jobseeker's allowance is liable to pay a charge. The local authority will take into account the means of the family in each case. Local authorities may not require Parents to pay more than is reasonable.It is a matter for local authorities as to whether or not a charge is made and, if so, how much any charge might be. We have not issued new guidance to local authorities since 1991 (paragraph 238 of the Children Act Guidance, Volume 2). This guidance covers services provided under Part III of the Children Act 1989 which includes domiciliary care.The Department of Health does not collect data about the number of local authorities charging for these services and therefore has no central information about the criteria used by local authorities to make such charges.