HC Deb 25 March 1980 vol 981 cc1163-4
16. Mr. Jim Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that there is adequate provision of community-based alternatives to residential care for juvenile offenders.

Sir George Young

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Members for Battersea, South (Mr. Dubs) and Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) on 18 March.

Mr. Marshall

Does not the Minister agree that far too many juvenile offenders are at present in residential care and that that situation is likely to persist while local authority expenditure on things such as intermediate treatment is only 6 per cent. of the total spent on community homes? Will he encourage more local authorities to switch resources from community homes to community-based projects?

Sir G. Young

On the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I agree that there are too many children in institutions. But the number is falling. There were 6,800 children in community homes of education in 1976. That had fallen by 700 to 6,100 in 1978. On the last point, our public expenditure White Paper has asked local authorities to give priority, as far as possible, to expenditure on services for children concerned with the prevention and treatment of delinquency and intermediate treatmenl. Community-based alternatives are an integral part of this.

Mr. Soley

Will the Minister make sure that fostering facilities such as the Kent fostering scheme are expanded in other areas?

Sir G. Young

am interested in what is happening in Kent over fostering. I am anxious to encourage other local authorities to follow this encouraging in intiative.