HL Deb 15 June 1994 vol 555 cc1692-3

2.45 p.m.

Lord Laing of Dunphail asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ensure that special needs providers in Scotland have both the funds they require and the assurance of continuity essential to the effective performance of their functions.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)

My Lords, the resources allocated to the local enterprise companies to deliver government training programmes for 1994–95 took account of the additional costs involved in providing training for people with special training needs and were based on costs submitted by local enterprise companies in their business plans. It is for each local enterprise company to negotiate contracts with training providers which suit local circumstances.

Lord Laing of Dunphail

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that answer. Does he accept that the new method of funding seriously erodes the cash flow of providers and, more seriously, that it ensures that the most disadvantaged in our society fall through the net because they are not taken on due to the possibility that there might be a lack of full funding for the provider?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, I am aware that there is some criticism in Scotland that output-based funding should not be the basis that is followed when we are dealing with the training of those with special needs. I do not know whether the noble Lord has any particular case in mind, but perhaps I may advise him that local enterprise companies in Scotland may deem output-based funding arrangements inappro-priate for providers who are concentrating on special needs training. Alternatively, they can agree outcomes at a reduced level.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, the Minister will recognise that this is a very important Question which will almost certainly be dealt with more fully when we get to the Committee stage of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill. As well as the point raised about training by the noble Lord, Lord Laing, I suggest that our educational system ought to provide a good enough basis to enable those with special needs to go on to take up the positions that may be available to them. After what Scotland has done following the Warnock Commission—we still have a long way to go but we have made good progress—I hope that in Committee the Minister will provide reassurances that there will be enough money to provide a service for those children who will ultimately require the special needs training to which the Question refers.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, as the noble Lord will appreciate, particular duties are imposed on local authorities with regard to this. As I am sure that he appreciates, the issue raised in the Question is the training of children with special needs once they have left school and of those adults who have special needs requirements. Business plans are required from the local enterprise companies, which are required to fix within those plans the arrangements that they propose to make for those with special needs. It is a priority that ought to be observed.