HC Deb 02 April 1976 vol 908 cc606-7W
Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she will introduce the arrangements for joint planning and financing by health and local authorities of priority projects which she referred to her in her Consultative Document on Priorities for Health and Personal Social Services in England; and whether she will make a statement.

Mrs. Castle

I have issued to regional and area health authorities and to local authorities in England, a consultative circular setting out revised arrangements for joint care planning between area health authorities and their matching local authorities. The circular also outlines proposed new arrangements enabling selected projects, agreed by both authorities, to be jointly financed.

The circular is consultative. Its proposals will be reviewed later this year in the light of the observations received following consultations with the health authorities, the local authority associations and other representative bodies. The Government, however, regards the establishment of effective joint planning as crucial to the development of community services for, for example, the elderly, the physically handicapped, the mentally ill and mentally handicapped. I am therefore asking the authorities to take immediate steps to introduce joint planning arrangements along the lines proposed on the consultative circular even though some, as I understand and recognise, may have reservations about the details.

I also consider it important that a start is made on jointly financed projects in the coming financial year. To this end, I shall shortly be making special allocations of joint financing money to health authorities. The amount available nationally in 1976–77 will be £8 million. As forecast in the consultative document on health and personal social services priorities, the programme is planned to rise to £27 million annually in 1979–80. In addition to the special allocations, the new arrangements also allow health authorities to apply the principles of joint financing to leases granted to local authorities for the use of land and property surplus to the requirements of the NHS, for projects jointly agreed by both authorities.

I am confident that these new proposals will lay a firm foundation for the planning and development of the key interdependent services provided separately by health and local authorites and will stimulate progress towards the achievement of the Government's overall strategy of reducing, to the fullest extent practicable, dependence upon hospitals and other institutions in favour of care and support in the community.

Copies of the consultative circular have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.