HC Deb 01 May 1996 vol 276 cc1139-40
10. Sir David Steel

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what extra resources he plans to make available to local authorities to carry out responsibilities designated by his circulars (a) under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and (b) in increasing inspection of residential nursing homes. [26060]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

No extra resources are required.

Sir David Steel

I am astonished by that reply. Since the financial settlements were reached with local authorities, six circulars have been sent out to social work departments imposing new responsibilities on them—one of them only today. Some of them are perfectly sensible, such as the requirement to inspect nursing homes twice, not once, a year, but no new resources have been attached to the circulars. May I plead with the Minister, therefore, that no circular should in future be sent to local authorities without the accompanying cash to enable them to carry out their new duties? Without that, undesirable cuts will be made elsewhere, such as in the home help service in the borders area.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Many circulars confirm good practice and give appropriate guidance without involving extra funds. Borders council has £14.5 million for its community care responsibilities; that is an increase. The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 stresses good practice; the guidance does not require more funding.

The guidance on local inspection of residential and day care services does not impose significant additional burdens on local authorities but does provide up-to-date guidance. That is why additional funds are not being awarded—they are not required.

Sir Hector Monro

Does my hon. Friend agree that £662 million for community care in Scotland this year is a substantial sum? Does he further agree that many elderly folk are pleased that the Chancellor, in his Budget, increased the capital sum below which support has to be provided for residents in these homes?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. There has been an increase of £41 million on the 1995–96 settlement. It is for authorities to establish their expenditure6/9/2006 priorities.

Ms Rachel Squire

In this National Carers Week, does the Minister agree that it is completely unacceptable that young carers in Scotland are not to have a statutory right to an assessment of their needs, unlike young carers in England and Wales? Will he further agree that this is another example of the Government saying one thing and doing another? Other hon. Members and I understood the Minister to promise, during the debate on the Bill on the Floor of the House, that Scotland's young carers would have such a legal right to an assessment of their needs.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The Government strongly supported the Carers (Recognition and Services) Bill during its passage through Parliament. Differences with the English provisions will not significantly disadvantage carers in Scotland. The guidance that we are giving encourages more co-ordinated, better-quality respite care services. We are encouraging local agencies to provide appropriate support for carers.