§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the implementation of the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996 by local authorities. 
§ Mr. Hutton
The number of people receiving direct payments is increasing steadily. The latest data which are available show 1,400 people receiving direct payments on 30 September 1998, compared with 1,000 people on 1 December 1997. The Department is working with local authorities, users and other stakeholders to increase further the number of people who are able to benefit from the increased independence which direct payments can offer.