HC Deb 21 March 1983 vol 39 cc314-6W
Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether in the light of public consultation, he has reached conclusions on the proposals of the All-Wales working party on services for mentally handicapped people.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Yes. On 29 July 1982 I announced that, subject to a satisfactory outcome to public consultation, I was prepared to back the 10-year strategy proposed by the working party. There were 85 written responses to the consultation from a wide range of statutory bodies, voluntary organisations, professional interests, trades unions and individuals. Although there were many helpful detailed suggestions for improvements or changes of emphasis, the responses were over-whemingly in favour of the proposed strategy and, in particular, of its concentration on the development of personal social services for mentally handicapped people in their home communities. This broad welcome for the strategy was repeated at the inaugural meeting of the All-Wales health forum on 29 October 1982.

In the light of this reassuring response I announced on 10 February 1983 the choice of vanguard areas under the strategy. The strategy will involve building up expenditure over the 10 years to £26 million per annum of additional recurring annual amounts. These will be provided from the funds made available each year for the hospital, community health and other health services element of the Welsh Office block public expenditure Vote.

The response to consultation enabled me to make important improvements to the strategy without changing the working party's principal proposals. In particular the principles of providing care for mentally handicapped people in their own homes or in alternative ordinary domestic housing, of developing equal access to services available to the general public and of especially intensive development in vanguard areas to test the viability and self-sufficiency of the new pattern of services are reaffirmed, as in the emphasis on the close involvement of the representatives of consumers of services at all stages.

I have today placed in the Library of the House the revised version of the strategy document which will form the basis of developments.

I have also decided which individual projects will receive Welsh Office funding to launch the strategy in the financial year 1983–84 and have placed in the Library a copy of a press notice which announces details of these decisions. The emphasis of the first phase of centrally funded development is on providing the foundations for developments over the period of the strategy as a whole. It will enable all county areas in Wales to make a start. A total of £1.6 million is available for the first year. Of this, the initial allocation to voluntary organisations totals well over £300,000 and a sum of £200,000 is being reserved to ensure that essential staff training is provided to meet the needs of the new services.

As the working party suggested, lead responsibility for local developments will rest with the personal social services authorities working in full co-operation with health, housing, education authorities and other service providers as well as the voluntary organisations and the representatives of mentally-handicapped people and their families. Personal social services authorities are therefore being asked to draw up in co-operation with these other interests proposals for local developments for the period of the strategy and to submit these to the Welsh Office before the end of October 1983. Welsh Office funding of developments from 1984–85 onwards will be designed to implement these approved plans.

Developments will be financed largely by means of specific payments from the Welsh Office subject to Parliamentary approval of the relevant provisions of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Bill, which is currently before the House. It is my intention, in so far as expenditure relates to local authority developments, to make over the sums involved permanently through the rate support grant once the new services are substantially in being. There will be discussions with the local authority associations about the mechanisms and timing of this transfer.

Health authorities will also receive some support for their essential contributions to community services from the funds specially provided for the strategy, but the bulk of these will go to the social services authorities and voluntary organisations. Health authority developments will also be funded through the sums set aside each year by the Welsh Office for special NHS developments in services for mentally-ill and mentally-handicapped people. I also expect health authorities to develop

1979 1980 1981 1982
Clwyd Llangollen County Infants School Ruthin County Junior School Penycae Church in Wales Voluntary Controlled Infants School Llandegla Voluntary Controlled Primary School
Llangollen Voluntary Controlled Junior School Ruthin County Infants School Rhosllanerchrugog Primary School Bryneglwys Voluntary Controlled Primary School
Old Colwyn Voluntary Controlled Primary School

community and hospital services through the new system of agreed programmes for priority developments using growth monies and savings achieved through increased efficiency.

The strategy will be reviewed formally after the first three years of developments and closely monitored locally and by the Welsh Office so that good practice and value for money can be sought and disseminated throughout Wales.

I am confident, in the light of the positive response to the public consultation, that the will exists to make the strategy work and to fulfil the possibility it offers of transforming for the better the quality of the lives of mentally-handicapped people and their families in Wales in the coming years.—[Vol. 28, c. 645–647; Vol. 36, c. 1170–1171.]

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