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Written Statements

Volume 552: debated on Monday 29 October 2012

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 29 October 2012

Treasury

Asset Protection Agency (Interim Report)

The interim report for the Asset Protection Agency (APA) has today been made electronically available in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report contains commentary on key developments in relation to the APA and the asset protection scheme (APS) over the period from 1 April 2012 to 29 October 2012.

I am pleased to note the statement in the report that on 17 October 2012 the Government announced that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will exit from the APS on 18 October 2012. This represents an important milestone on RBS’s path of recovery and towards a return to the private sector.

It also removes a substantial contingent liability from the Government’s balance sheet. At its peak, the APS pledged £400 billion of taxpayer support to the UK banking sector, and by exiting the APS, this figure is reduced from approximately £40 billion to zero. During this Parliament the taxpayer guarantee to the sector has fallen by over £450 billion, a drop of almost 95%.

City Deals

The Government are today announcing a second wave of city deals, inviting a further 20 cities and their wider areas to negotiate for the devolution of the specific powers, resources and responsibilities required to deliver their locally-determined economic priorities.

The first wave of city deals involved the eight largest English cities outside London. In order to support our dual objectives of rebalancing the economy and boosting private sector growth, we are going to invite the next 14 largest cities, together with the six cities with the highest population growth, to participate in the second wave.

We will ask each of these cities to work across their functional economic area to put forward proposals for: the Black Country, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Greater Cambridge, Coventry and Warwickshire, Hull and Humber, Ipswich, Leicester and Leicestershire, Milton Keynes, Greater Norwich, Oxford and Central Oxfordshire, Reading, Plymouth, Preston and Lancashire, Southampton and Portsmouth, Southend, Stoke and Staffordshire, Sunderland and the North East, Swindon and Wiltshire, and Tees Valley.

This second wave of city deals will build on the success of the first wave, accelerating the pace of decentralisation and unlocking new and innovative ways to drive local economic growth. Deals will represent a genuine transaction between cities and Government, with “asks” and “offers” from both sides.

Each city and their local enterprise partnership will be invited to put forward a landmark proposal to address a significant local economic issue which requires a transformative response. These bespoke arrangements will be complemented by a “core package”, consisting of measures that will devolve significant powers and functions to all cities and their wider areas that go on to negotiate a deal with Government. This will capitalise on the progress we have made so far, demonstrating our commitment to the devolution of powers from central to local government, if local areas are willing to offer significant reform in return.

There will be an element of competition in wave two, with the 20 cities being given up until 15 January to put forward initial proposals. Deals will not be guaranteed. Cities will need to demonstrate that they can meet the following five criteria:

i. to make proposals for stronger governance across their functional economic area, so that decisions necessary for the growth of the area as a whole can be taken quickly and effectively;

ii. to include proposals for harnessing significantly greater private sector input, expertise and resources;

ii. to demonstrate strong political commitment and readiness to put resources into delivering the deal;

iv. to present proposals that are consistent with the need to drive efficiency in the use of public money in the area, doing more with less, in pursuit of our medium-term goal to eliminate the deficit; and

v. to propose reforms for their area which represent the leading edge of the Government’s general economic strategy—to reduce regulation, create well functioning markets, promote an enabling environment for business and boost private sector growth and investment.

We will engage directly with leaders across cities and local enterprise partnerships, advancing only those that have the strongest propositions.

Alongside the city deals process the Government will work with all local enterprise partnerships, beyond those in the first and second waves of the city deals programme, to identify and respond to barriers which may be constraining immediate growth in their area.

Health

South London Healthcare NHS Trust

I wish to inform the House that the trust special administrator appointed to South London Healthcare NHS Trust in July by my predecessor is publishing a draft report today making recommendations to me in relation to securing a sustainable future for services provided by that organisation.

Details about the appointment of the administrator, Matthew Kershaw, were given in a written ministerial statement issued on 12 July 2012, Official Report, columns 47- 48WS.

In accordance with chapter 5A of the National Health Service Act 2006, as introduced by the Health Act 2009, the trust special administrator has provided me with a copy of the draft report, which has today also been laid before Parliament. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. The report will also be available at: www.tsa.nhs.uk.

I will consider the detail of the draft report but do not anticipate commenting on its recommendations at this stage. It is for the trust special administrator to now consult locally on his draft recommendations. That consultation will run from 2 November to 13 December. Significantly, it will give the public, patients, NHS staff and NHS commissioners, as well as all other key stakeholders, the opportunity to have their say about the future of services currently provided by South London Healthcare NHS Trust and the wider south-east London health economy.

Following consultation, the trust special administrator must make final recommendations to me as to the action I should take in relation to the trust in a final report by 7 January 2013. I expect those recommendations to consider the views of all persons and organisations taking part in the consultation. It will be for me, as Secretary of State, to make a final decision about whether or not to accept the administrator’s recommendations by 1 February 2013, after having also considered the responses to the administrator’s consultation. I will publish my final decision and the reasons for it, and lay a notice of such, in Parliament.

A key objective of the Government is to ensure that all NHS organisations deliver high-quality services to patients that are clinically and financially sustainable for the long term. The provisions in chapter 5A of the National Health Service Act 2006, referred to as the regime for unsustainable NHS providers, give the Government a mechanism to address fundamental, systemic issues that have rendered an NHS trust such as South London Healthcare NHS Trust unsustainable.

Past efforts did not succeed in putting South London Healthcare NHS Trust on a sustainable path. Using the regime is about protecting services for patients in the context of an organisation that is no longer sustainable and to ensure that a prolonged, challenging situation can be resolved speedily to give certainty to NHS staff. Despite some recent improvements in clinical performance, there are significant concerns about sustaining them because of the trust’s very considerable financial challenges. As the House has previously been informed, in 2011-12, South London Healthcare NHS Trust incurred the largest financial deficit of any of the 248 NHS provider organisations in England, at over £65 million. The trust is losing well over £1 million of taxpayers’ money a week, which means that vital resources are being diverted from other parts of the NHS. I am clear that patients and NHS staff of the trust must be given the benefit of services, in future, that can be delivered on a sustainable footing.

In making my final decision, next year, on the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust and the services it provides, my objective will be to ensure that services are delivered more efficiently and to a high standard for the people of south-east London. Patients and taxpayers deserve this.

I fully understand that use of the regime may be unsettling for NHS staff and local residents. However, no decisions have been made at this stage and everyone affected should rest assured that the Government are seeking to bring about further improvements in quality of care as well as dealing with the financial challenges of South London Healthcare NHS Trust through a stable and sustainable solution that will benefit everyone.

Winterbourne View

I wish to update the House about ongoing activity in relation to Winterbourne View private hospital.

The House will wish to be aware of two developments relating to Winterbourne View since the last written ministerial statement, issued on 25 June 2012, Official Report, column 2WS. First, the South Gloucestershire safeguarding adults board serious case review into Winterbourne View hospital was published on 7 August 2012 and can be found at:

http://www.southglos.gov.uk/Pages/Article%20Pages/Community%20Care%20-%20Housing/Older%20and%20disabled%20people/Winterbourne-View-11204.aspx.

Secondly, the House will wish to be aware that 11 former members of staff at Winterbourne View who were convicted of offences under the Mental Health Act 1983 and Mental Capacity Act 2005 received sentences on Friday 26 October. Six have been jailed, and five others given suspended sentences. I hope that these sentences will send a clear message that such criminal behaviour will not be tolerated and that there will be real consequences for the perpetrators.

This terrible case has revealed the criminal and inhuman acts some care workers and nurses are capable of. I want this case to reinforce to everyone, from front-line workers, to regulators, service commissioners, managers and board members, that they have a responsibility in preventing abuse of vulnerable people.

The abuse of patients at Winterbourne View hospital was horrifying. This was criminal behaviour—unacceptable in any part of our society, but particularly distressing given that these were people in vulnerable situations.

The BBC “Panorama” programme to be broadcast tonight continues to highlight inappropriate and poor quality care. There is no excuse for this.

The Department of Health review, set up by the former Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), has found clear evidence that there are far too many people in specialist in-patient learning disability services (including assessment and treatment units) and many are staying there for too long. This must not carry on and must come to an end. People often end up in these facilities due to crisis which are preventable or could be managed if people are given the right support in their homes or in community settings.

Best practice and Department of Health guidance on this matter are clear—people with learning disabilities or autism and behaviour which challenges should benefit from local personalised services and should be supported to live in the community wherever possible. Only in very limited cases should in-patient services be used. This means that:

no one should be sent unnecessarily into in-patient services for assessment and treatment;

for the small number of people for whom in-patient services may be needed for a short period, the focus must be on providing good-quality care which is safe, caring and open to the community; and

people should move on from these services quickly—planning starts from day one to enable people to move on as quickly as possible to more appropriate care.

The key priorities are to address unacceptable failures of commissioning and to improve the capacity and capability of commissioning across health and care for people with behaviour which challenges with the aim of driving up the quality of care they receive, improving their lives and significantly reducing the number of people using inpatient services. This is best done through effective joint commissioning across health and social care and proper local planning.

I will publish the final report of the Winterbourne View review shortly. Alongside that final report, I will publish an agreement or concordat setting out the responsibilities of Government, commissioners, providers, professional bodies and regulators and the timetabled actions that each body commits to deliver.

We will continue to work with voluntary organisations, people with learning disabilities and their families so that they can hold health and social care bodies to account in making sure we deliver real change.

I will continue to update the House on this issue.