HC Deb 03 November 1995 vol 265 c501W
Mr. Clifford Forsythe

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consultation he had with health and social services boards or trusts prior to issuing guidance to social security offices which led to applicants requiring community alarms being refused community care grants to purchase them; and when he intends to rectify the situation. [41474]

Mr. Moss

Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Social Security Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Alec Wylie. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Alec Wylie to Mr. Clifford Forsythe, dated 3 November 1995:

I have been asked to reply to your recent question on the provision of Community Care Grants for Community Alarm Systems.

I should first of all assure you that there has been no recent change in policy regarding the provision of grants from the Social Fund for Community Alarm systems. The position is that the Health and Social Service Boards/Trusts (HSSB/Ts) are responsible for the provision of a wide range of services under the government's community care policies. This provision can include community alarm systems, but it is a matter for the individual Boards to decide what resources should be made available from their overall budget for any particular form of help.

Social Fund Community Care Grants complement these provisions and a person who is getting Income Support may be entitled to a grant for the purchase of a Community Alarm System. In considering awards, Social Fund Officers must look carefully at all the circumstances of each individual case including the possibility that help may be available from another source such as the HSSB/Ts. Thus the need for close liaison between the Social Security Agency and the local social services departments.

Internal procedural guidance on this subject was issued earlier in the year but unfortunately some offices did not interpret this correctly and applicants were wrongly advised to contact the HSSB/Ts for help. Steps have already been taken to ensure that all applications for Community Care Grants for community alarms are handled correctly. In addition, offices have been asked to identify and review those cases which were incorrectly handled.

I hope this helps explain the position for you.