HC Deb 22 March 1991 vol 188 cc252-3W
Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about implementation of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986.

Mr. Gerald Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement concerning the implementation of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The Disabled Persons Act 1986 has been implemented with the exception of sections 1, 2 and 3 and sections 7, 8(2) and (3).

Sections 1 and 2 would provide for the setting up of a formal system of authorised representatives to be appointed either by the disabled person himself or, if he is unable to do so due to physical or mental incapacity, by the local authority. Section 3 would require local authorities to give a disabled person or his authorised representative the right to make representations about the need for services, to be given on request a statement of the assessed needs and services to be provided, and to make representations about any such statement.

Consultations with the local authority associations on what it would cost to implement these sections have been completed recently. The associations estimate these costs at about £28 million a year in England at November 1989 prices, including £18 million to establish and run a formal system of authorised representatives under all three sections.

The objectives of these sections are to give disabled people a greater say in decisions affecting their ability to live independent lives in the community. We fully endorse those objectives and have taken great care to see that they are fully reflected in the provisions of the Children Act 1989 and the new arrangements for community care under the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 and associated policy guidance.

Under the provisions of the 1989 Children Act from 14 October 1991 disabled children will have the same protection which they enjoy currently only if they are taken into care. One of its key features is the emphasis on the need for parents, the child and others connected with the child to participate fully in decisions about service provision in partnership with local authorities. The Act also provides for a representations procedure with an independent element to consider complaints and other representations from parents, the child and others connected with the child.

The new community care arrangements, which will be fully implemented by April 1993, have a wider scope than the Disabled Persons Act 1986 in that they cover all people affected by ageing or disability and give greater recognition to the needs of carers. They reflect and amplify sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Disabled Persons Act in a number of specific ways. From 1 April 1991 local authorities are required by directions under section 50 of the National Health Service and Community Care Act to have procedures for considering representations about needs and services. Anyone acting on behalf of a disabled person can make representations, including complaints, about needs and services, and local authorities are obliged to consider them.

When the community care arrangements are fully implemented, local authorities will need to have in place assessment arrangements covering all community care needs. For people with communication difficulties arising from sensory impairment, mental incapacity or other disabilities local authorities have been advised that they will need to take positive steps to ensure that they can participate fully in the assessment process and in the determination of service provision. Written statements of the results of assessments and any services to be provided will be supplied on request. These requirements have been set out by the Department in the document "Community Care in the Next Decade and Beyond: Policy Guidance" (HMSO, 1990).

The Department is preparing good practice information and material designed to assist authorities to give effect to the community care policy guidance. This will include material on representation and advocacy including the development of local advocacy schemes. In addition, we are giving financial support to a number of voluntary organisations which assist disabled people to make representations about needs or services either through peer support or the provision of advocates or companions.

Disabled people within the meaning of the 1986 Act will retain their right under section 4 of that Act to an assessment of needs and a decision on services and where a need for services under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 has been established to have those services provided.

In the context of these substantial and wide-ranging provisions which provide protection for disabled people, to impose on local authorities the additional requirements of sections 1, 2 and 3 could carry the danger of diverting resources into complex administrative arrangements at the expense of services. We have therefore decided not to implement these sections, but we will review the situation again in the light of experience of the new arrangements.

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