HC Deb 27 April 1988 vol 132 cc331-2
1. Mrs. Ray Michie

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the funding for Crossroads care attendant schemes in Scotland.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Forsyth)

I have received 25 letters about the funding of local Crossroads schemes in the past 10 months.

Mrs. Michie

Does the Minister agree that the ending of the community programme will have a tremendously adverse effect on the excellent Crossroads scheme, which helps to give respite to the carers of over 4,000 disabled, multiple handicapped, sick people? Does he also agree that those people, who willingly and lovingly look after often confused and difficult relatives, desperately need time off just to do the ordinary things of life and that the Crossroads scheme enables them to do that? Will he tell us whether funding for the Crossroads scheme will continue and under what heading it might come—for example, the social work services group in Edinburgh?

Mr. Forsyth

I agree with everything that the hon. Lady said about the excellent work done by Crossroads schemes throughout Scotland. There are 42 operating in Scotland, of which 28 receive support from the Manpower Services Commission. There is no reason why funding should be withdrawn as a result of the changes in the employment training programme. Crossroads will be invited to apply to take part in the employment training programme, as will other voluntary bodies participating in the community programme.

The new programme will certainly place greater emphasis on training, but that need not necessarily mean that funding is no longer available. It is also open to local Crossroads schemes to apply to their local authorities and health boards for support.

Mr. Ingram

Is the Minister aware that the Under-Secretary of State for Employment wrote to me on 28 March saying that the idea of a rate for the job will no longer be relevant to those employed on the scheme? Is he further aware that that is one of the main worries of those who are currently running the schemes and that, in East Kilbride, 300 beneficiaries of the scheme are likely to lose out if it does not continue?

Will the Minister provide the resources to the Lanarkshire health board to enable the scheme to continue? I should like to draw his attention to the fact that one third of the referrals to the scheme in East Kilbride come from the Lanarkshire health board. with no funding being provided by it.

Mr. Forsyth

The purpose of the scheme is to support carers and to help those in need of support. The question of the rate for the job does not arise. The training allowance is a more appropriate form of remuneration for a training programme. The proposed allowance will result in benefit entitlement, plus a premium of £10 to £12 a week. It will therefore be more attractive to unemployed people with families on higher benefit levels than the existing community programme wage limit.

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