We are aware how vital the annual grant of more than £10 million is to children’s hospices and we have pledged to continue it while we work with hospices to develop a per patient funding system to ensure that hospice services from 2015 can be funded locally and on an equitable and transparent basis.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. Since the introduction of the grant in 2006, children’s hospices now reach 75% more children and families and provide vital services. Can he assure me that the funding agreement will be in place by 2015?
Let me first pay tribute to the amazing work of so many children’s hospices around the country. I know that Little Harbour in St Austell in my hon. Friend’s constituency has benefited from the grant and, indeed, from the increase in the grant last year. It is absolutely the intention both to work with hospices to get this right and to introduce the new system in 2015.
Will the Minister join me in sending condolences to Gemma and Aaron Rolf and Jack, the parents and brother of six-year-old Sophie Rolf, who had an inoperable brain tumour and died, sadly, yesterday? Sophie and her family raised thousands of pounds to bring children’s facilities to the Earl Mountbatten hospice on the island. Those facilities were recently opened and will be a lasting tribute to a very special little girl.