HC Deb 23 May 1979 vol 967 cc1026-7
4. Mr. Adams

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to increase the rate support grant to Scottish local authorities to improve the availability of places in eventide homes in the Paisley area, where there is a substantial waiting list at present.

Mr. Fairgrieve

None, Sir. Rate support grant is paid in aid of local authority revenues generally, and it is for authorities to determine expenditure priorities between services.

Mr. Adams

Will the Minister be more specific? Is he aware that the number of people over retirement age is likely to increase by about 10 per cent. to 15 per cent in the next decade? Is he suggesting that no additional resources are needed to meet this demand? Is he saying that what is required is simply a redistribution of what is already there? If he is, will he tell us quite specifically what local government services should get less, in the Government's view, so that geriatric care may be maintained?

Mr. Fairgrieve

I can only repeat that it is the privilege of my right hon. Friend to decide the level of rate support grant, and thereafter it is the duty of the local authorities to decide how it is divided up and spent.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the Minister state the effect which the Chancellor's announcement yesterday about a reduction in rate support grant to local authorities will have on the social work services, especially for the old and the mentally handicapped?

Mr. Fairgrieve

That entirely depends on how the local authority decides to divide up the rate support grant.

Mr. McElhone

The Minister has not yet answered the question. What does he tell an elderly disabled person in need of local authority care who lives in a Tory-controlled area which will suffer massive rate support grant cuts? Does he tell that person to suffer in the name of Tory tax cuts? Is that the Tory freedom we have been hearing about?

Mr. Fairgrieve

I did answer the question, and I point out to the hon. Gentleman that if a local authority decides to spend the whole of its rate support grant on the social services, that is its privilege.