§ 12. Mr. Michael
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the cost to local authorities in Wales of implementing the community care proposals contained in the recent White Paper on community care.
§ Mr. Grist
As we have made clear in the White Paper "Caring for People", the resources to be made available to local authorities in Wales to implement the new framework for community care will be determined in this year's public expenditure survey, following consultations with the local authorities which have begun.
§ Mr. Michael
The Minister did not answer my question. Does he accept that in coming years, the increasing number of elderly people will require extra resources? Does he further agree that care in the community will cost money and must not be implemented on the cheap? Will he guarantee that the Government will make available enough money to enable local authorities in Wales to bear the burden that is being transferred to them by the National Health Service and Community Care Bill which is currently in Committee? Will he also ensure that such finance is ring-fenced, so that there will be no doubt about the resources available to look after our old people?
§ Mr. Grist
As the hon. Gentleman is, with me, a member of the Standing Committee, he must be aware that the Government have every intention of ensuring that their policy works to the benefit of the old and dependent in society. We do not believe that resources should be ring-fenced because we put our trust in local authorities. Of course, we shall take into consideration any action that might have to be taken in the future, but at this stage we have faith in local authorities.
Mr. John P. Smith
Will the Minister take this opportunity to comment on the shortfall in respite care allowances? My constituents are unable to take advantage of hostels for the mentally and physically handicapped because the abolition of the board and lodging allowance has penalised dependants. People do not receive the same amount of benefit if, to have a break, they put their dependants into respite hospitals.