HC Deb 02 March 1983 vol 38 cc235-6
10. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the resources to be made available in Scotland in 1982–83 under the support financing scheme to finance community services.

Mr. John MacKay

A total of £2 million is available in the current financial year for allocation to health boards under the support financing arrangements.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that the concept of community care is generally accepted, but that it is a cruel and useless confidence trick if the resources are not provided to translate that concept into practice? Does he recognise that because of the demographic changes taking place in Scotland and elsewhere, the sums provided are wholly inadequate? Is he further aware that Shelter, when providing briefs for the Committee considering social security and other matters, said that it regarded the sums not only as wholly inadequate, but as extremely bad when compared with provisions south of the Border?

Mr. MacKay

Perhaps to the hon. Gentleman's surprise, I agree with his general point about the need to look after the elderly in the community, as far as that is possible. The Government scheme in Scotland has been in operation for three years. Unfortunately, all the money available has not been taken up. However, 38 projects are under way. I hope that local authorities and health boards will continue to consider the scheme and to use all the money that I am making available.

Mr. Henderson

Does my hon. Friend accept that, while one welcomes the thrust of his intention to improve care in the community, that would not be as welcome if it meant a reduction in the distribution of total resources in the National Health Service through the SHARE system? Is there not an argument for those arrangements to be done at a more local level between health boards and regional councils?

Mr. MacKay

My hon. Friend has put his finger on one of the real problems of support financing. It means taking money away from the health boards and perhaps putting at risk the continuation of the SHARE distribution in order to pass it to the local authorities. I should like to think that the local health boards and local authorities could work more closely together to move the finance locally rather than expecting the Government to do the moving for them.