§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
Local authorities have powers to make arrangements for the care and after-care of persons suffering from illness. In the case of persons who are or have been suffering from mental disorder there is a duty to provide certain services, including residential accommodation and day centres.
Planning guidelines on future levels of provision of residential accommodation and day care were discussed in the 1975 White Paper "Better Services for the Mentally Ill"—Cmnd. 6233—which indicated that completing the future pattern was likely to take 20–30 years.
I am aware that local authorities current progress towards these levels of provision varies. But as the White Paper saidThe level of local need can only be fully determined in the context of the individual locality".Moreover, some local authorities prefer to rely less on their own provision and more on accommodation and day care provided locally by voluntary bodies, which the local authority supports financially. Details of total expenditure by local authorities on the care of the mentally ill is set out in "Personal Social Services Statistics" published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
I believe that the circular that we plan to issue this summer following up our consultative document on "Care in the Community" will lead to an increase in the facilities provided by local authorities for the mentally ill.