HC Deb 10 March 1980 vol 980 cc403-4W
Mr. Ancram

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements he has made for the introduction of a scheme authorising health boards to provide financial support for local authorities' and voluntary organisation's expenditure on mutually beneficient projects.

Mr. Younger

I intend to implement in the coming financial year a scheme authorising health boards to provide financial support or projects within the sphere of responsibility of local authority social work departments and of voluntary organisations active in the same field. Health boards and local authorities already co-operate in the running and funding of projects for which there is joint responsibility—that is, joint financing.

Support financing will encourage further co-operation between the two types of authority but it is distinct from joint financing in that the health board support will be for a limited period and the local authority will have operational responsibility for a project. The health board will consider funding such a project under the support financing scheme if, in its view, the money thus spent would make a substantial contribution to the discharge of its functions.

The scheme will permit health boards to support projects in the social work field either by contributing up to 60 per cent. of the capital costs, or by making contributions (normally not greater than 60 per cent. in the first year and tapering thereafter) to the running costs for a period (initially of not more than five years but exceptionally for up to seven years), or by both.

While the scheme will not result in any overall increase in the planned level of resources for the health and personal social services programme, it should enable projects such as hostels for the mentally handicapped, residential homes for the elderly, day centres, home help services and support services in sheltered housing developments, to be put in hand sooner than would otherwise be possible.

I am proposing, therefore, that £1 million should be earmarked for the scheme in 1980–81 and that this should be available to health boards for funding projects which they have discussed with local authorities. In the initial stages of this scheme I envisage voluntary organisations will approach social work departments to discuss proposals in this field. Initially, too, support finance funds will be available to boards on essentially a first come, first served basis to ensure the maximum uptake of the earmarked funds.