HC Deb 12 July 1988 vol 137 cc169-70W
125. Mr. Teddy Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services when his Department's rates for elderly people living in residential homes were last reviewed; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo

All the limits were reconsidered as part of the last annual process of uprating benefit levels and as a result certain of the income support limits for people in independent residential care and nursing homes were increased on 11 April 1988. This followed a review which took account of a range of information on costs and charges in all categories of homes. The next general uprating of benefits will be in April 1989 and the position of people in homes, including elderly people in residential care homes, will again be considered, taking account of similar factors, in advance of that date. The Department would welcome any fresh information from hon. Members, or other sources, which might assist in that process.

Mr. Forman

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has yet reached conclusions following consultation about the level of registration and inspection fees for private residential care homes; and if he has any proposals to change the fees for the registration and inspection of nursing homes.

Mr. Newton

Yes. In the light of the survey carried out by the social services inspectorate and the Welsh Office social work service to establish more clearly the costs of registration and inspection, and of consultation with interested bodies on how best to take account of its findings, regulations have been laid to increase the fees with effect from 1 August 1988. The home registration fee will go up from £550 to £570; the manager registration fee from £100 to £155; the change of owner fee from £550 in some cases and £350 in others to a standard £570; and the annual fee per place from £15 to £28. These increases reflect our policy that authorities should have the means to do the work properly entailed in ensuring acceptable standards through the improved system of registration and inspection introduced under the provisions of the Registered Homes Act 1984.

The increased annual fee per place takes account of the additional requirement, also contained in the new regulations, that homes should be inspected at least twice a year, instead of once as at present. Guidance to local authorities will be that at least one of those inspections should be without notice.

We have also taken the opportunity of the new regulations and guidance to follow up a number of issues identified in Lady Wagner's report. Thus the regulations will now require that registered homes must keep a record showing for each individual resident any money or other valuables received by the home on the resident's behalf. and accounting for its use. The guidance will seek to reinforce existing arrangements to ensure effective complaints procedures, including giving residents information about the role of the local government ombudsman.

Pending the outcome of further steps to obtain more detailed information about the costs of registering and inspecting nursing homes, the fees chargeable in this respect are being increased, also from 1 August 1988, broadly in line with inflation since the present fees were stt in April 1986. Regulations have been laid accordingly which provide for the home registration fee to go up from £550 to £600; the change of owner from £350 to £380; the annual fee per bed from £20 to £22; and the annual fee where there are no overnight beds from £175 to £190.

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