§ 32. Mrs. Chalker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much was granted by her Department to voluntary bodies in the last year for which figures are available.
§ Dr. Owen
Section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 enables my right hon. Friend to give grants to voluntary organisations which operate in the health and personal social services fields and provide a service similar to one which she or a local authority must or may provide, or which promote or publicise such a service or a similar one.
Under this provision, in 1974–75 she made grants totalling £1,777,770.
§ Dr. Owen
We are anxious to encourage all forms of voluntary effort in the fields for which we are responsible and the Department has given guidance as appropriate to health and local authorities.
In the health service we have encouraged the employment of voluntary help organisers to develop the effective use of volunteers; about 300 organisers are employed at present. In addition, many voluntary organisations in the health field provide valuable service and are receiving support and encouragement from health authorities, through grants and in other ways.
In the personal social services, too, local authorities work closely with voluntary organisations and individual volunteers, and most authorities have appointed an officer to co-ordinate voluntary effort.
On financial support, we are able under Section 64 of the Health Services and 164W Public Health Act 1968 to give grants to voluntary organisations in the health and personal social services if they are providing a service similar to one which my right hon. Friend or a local authority must or may provide. Under this provision, grants totalling £1,777,770 were made to voluntary organisations in 1974–75 and the estimates for the current year provide £2½ million for this purpose. The power to give grants in the health field are also exercised by regional and area health authorities. Local authorities have a corresponding power under Section 65 of the 1968 Act to give grants to voluntary organisations and to help them in kind also.
The contribution of voluntary organisations and volunteers is of particular value in a time of economic difficulty when needs are continuing to rise while statutory services are under severe restraint.