HC Deb 25 March 1986 vol 94 cc770-2
3. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received about the future role of the voluntary sector following the publication of the Green Paper and the White Paper on the reform of social security; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Tony Newton)

A number of voluntary organisations have written in about how the Green and White Paper proposals will affect them. Some have subsequently discussed their views with me and other Ministers.

Mr. Colvin

What role does my hon. Friend envisage for the voluntary sector in a reformed welfare state, particularly in the light of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's recent Budget recommendations on changes in the tax regime for voluntary charitable giving?

Mr. Newton

I expect that the measures that were announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I very much welcome, will enable the voluntary organisations to play an even more important part in the general welfare of the community than they already play. It is a contribution which in its own humble way the Department of Health and Social Security will seek to promote by its grants and policies.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister confirm that as part of this change the Government do not intend to transfer any statutory responsibility from either the social services or the health services to the voluntary sector?

Mr. Newton

There is no proposal to transfer responsibilities between the sectors. The hon. Gentleman knows that one of our major aims is to promote partnership between the two, because we believe that that is the best way to meet the needs of many people.

Mr. Stern

Is my hon. Friend aware that local authorities in certain areas are using Government policies, such as care in the community, to reduce the role of the voluntary sector? Will he issue guidance in areas where there have been major changes in social policy to encourage existing voluntary groups and new voluntary groups to take a full part?

Mr. Newton

We shall do everything that we can to ensure the success of the partnership to which I have referred. Experience differs from one local authority to another. Alongside those to which my hon. Friend has referred are others which are accused of trying to push more on to the voluntary sector. A proper partnership remains the right answer.

Mr. Meacher

Does it not say a good deal about this Government's policies that a week ago a Tory Budget yet again gave away major tax concessions to the rich by abolishing the tax even on major lifetime gifts and by further big tax cuts for directors on £30,000 a year, but that at the same time the Social Security Bill will cut the benefit of 2,500 very severely disabled people by no less than £60 a week and also, by major changes to the disregards, will cut the income of voluntary support workers and of those who care for them? Is it not absolutely and abundantly clear that social security reform under this Government is simply a fig leaf for redistribution from the poor to the rich?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman is increasingly stuck in a very boring groove. He knows quite well that the illustrative figures published with the White Paper show that the overwhelming majority of the least well-off disabled people will gain substantially.