HC Deb 14 April 2003 vol 403 c606W
Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance his Department gives to local authorities about charging for domiciliary care services for disabled children; [108756]

(2) how many, what proportion and which local authorities charge for services to disabled children; what criteria they use to set these charges; and what fee levels have been set. [108757]

Jacqui Smith

The legal position, as set out at Section 29 of the Children Act 1989, is that where a local authority provides services, with the exception of advice, guidance or counselling, they may make such charges for that service as they consider reasonable.

The Government recognises that this may put undue pressure on low income families and this is why the Act provides that no-one receiving income support or family credit is liable to pay a charge. The local authority will take into account the means of the family in each case. Local authorities may not require parents to pay more than is reasonable.

It is a matter for local authorities as to whether or not a charge is made and, if so, how much any charge might be. We have not issued guidance to local authorities as the legal responsibility is in their hands.