§ Mr. Moonman
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will issue guidelines on priorities for the health and personal social services.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am issuing today a consultative document "Priorities for Health and Personal Social Services in England", which reviews recent trends in the services and suggests strategies for their development up to 1979–80—the years covered by the recent White Paper on Public Expenditure. Copies are available in the Vote Office.
The document, which is being sent to all health and local authorities and community health councils in England, and to a wide range of staff and professional organisations, hon. Members, voluntary bodies and others interested in the services, seeks to make planning a co-operative enterprise by promoting extensive discussion of proposed national strategies with all those concerned with the services. The document makes clear the importance I attach to joint planning between health and local authorities and envisages the development of joint financing arrangements.
Within the overall strategy of stabilising the level of public expenditure after 1976–77, the Government have decided to allow for some measure of growth in expenditure on the health and personal social services. The document outlines what I see as the main priorities for the use of these limited extra resources and where I see scope for lower rates of growth and for measures which can release resources to meet more pressing needs.
The strategies outlined in the document will be accompanied by continuing measures designed to secure redistribution of resources in favour of deprived regions and areas, to which I referred in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) on 19th February—[Vol. 905, c. 815–6].