HC Deb 10 December 1974 vol 883 cc217-8
6. Mr. Thome

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she has any early plans to improve the services for the mentally handicapped; and whether she will publish such plans.

Dr. Owen

I have recently issued guidelines to local authorities for their capital planning for the financial years 1975/76–1977/78. I had hoped to make a more comprehensive statement about mental handicap services around the end of the year, but it may now take a little longer.

Mr. Thorne

Do I correctly understand from my hon. Friend that one of the inhibiting factors is the lack of resources available to the Department? Does he consider that it might be useful if my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State used her position within the Cabinet to ensure that more resources were allocated from defence to social service provision of the type with which the Question deals?

Dr. Owen

The question of cost is somewhat wider, but I can say that my right hon. Friend has already used her influence within the past few weeks. An additional £1.5 million has been made available for local authority mentally-handicapped building projects, which will restore about half the cut made in December 1973. We have also stressed in the guidance to local authorities that we attach considerable importance to trying to achieve the target figures set out in "Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped".