HC Deb 13 July 1982 vol 27 cc847-8
12. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to ensure that the number of home helps available is adequate to meet the future needs of long-term sick and disabled people.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Responsibility for ensuring that the number of home helps available is adequate to meet the needs of a particular area rests with the local social services committee.

Mr. Roberts

Does the Minister accept that cuts in the rate support grant make it impossible for the great bulk of local authorities to comply with the Government's guidelines for home help provision? Is it not deplorable and hypocritical that the Government set down fictitious guidelines and deliberately go out of their way to make sure that local authorities cannot comply with them?

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman's question enables me to underline the gap between hypothetical guesses based on the sort of reports that have been referred to and what is happening on the ground. It is not true that there has been a reduction in home help services. There has been a steady increase in the services under this Government and latest figures show that there is still a steady increase in the number of hours of home help provided.

Mr. Hannam

In considering any changes in the structure of social service workers, will my hon. and learned Friend have regard to the pre-Seebohm system, under which visitors gave the sick and disabled specialist advice, rather than a general provision of services, as is given by social service workers at present? Will my hon. and learned Friend consider returning to the system under which health visitors and home helps give that specialist advice?

Mr. Clarke

I can see difficulties in trying to go back to the pre-Seebohm organisation, but these matters need review from time to time and I will look at my hon. Friend's ideas.

Mr. John

Can the Minister explain why, as he announced earlier this year, the Government have ceased to collect home help statistics?

Mr. Clarke

Because the Government collect far too many useless statistics on one thing and another.

Mr. J. W. Rooker


Mr. Clarke

In this case, perfectly adequate figures are collected by CIPFA. They show that the number of hours of home help provided is increasing. I am not guessing; I am merely not collecting two sets of figures to prove the same good news.