§ Mr. Wigley
asked the Prime Minister if she will make it her policy to increase the resources available to improve services for disabled people; and if she will make a statement.482W
§ The Prime Minister
The Government have made it clear in guidance issued to health and local authorities, who are the main statutory providers of services for disabled people, that services for the most vulnerable groups in the community, including disabled people, should have priority. It is for individual health and local authorities to determine local priorities in light of their statutory responsibilities and local circumstances.
However, although it is not practicable to calculate the total amount spent on services for disabled people, overall expenditure on a number of services which particularly benefit them has substantially increased in real terms over recent years. For example, on the basis of 1984–85 prices, there was an 85 per cent. cost terms increase in local authority expenditure in England on homes for mentally handicapped adults between 1978–79 and 1984–85 and an increase of 39 per cent. over the same period in local authority expenditure in England on aids for disabled people.
With regard to social security benefits, total expenditure on all cash benefits for long term sick and disabled people in 1985–86 will be over £5 billion. This represents an increase in real terms of over 50 per cent. since 1978–79, of which some £380 million is due to real improvements in the average value of benefits paid.