HC Deb 03 December 2003 vol 415 cc75-6W
Dr. Starkey:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment his Department has made of the administrative costs of the voucher system for Carers' Short Breaks; and what proportion they are of the total spending; [140685]

(2) how much funding was allocated this financial year for the Carers' Short Break scheme; and what proportion of this has been spent on voucher schemes; [140686]

when his Department will review the operation of the vouchers available under the Carers' Short Break scheme, introduced in May 2003. [140687]

Dr. Ladyman:

Under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, councils have discretion to establish short break voucher schemes for carers. The intention is that flexible schemes should be developed in consultation with stakeholders according to local need. Voucher schemes will be attractive to some carers, but it is not the intention that all breaks services should be delivered through vouchers. Vouchers were introduced to widen the choice available to carers.

In 2003–04, the Carers Grant is worth £100 million to support councils in the provision of breaks and services direct to carers. The conditions of the grant ensure that the majority of this money is for flexible breaks services. Information about the proportion of this sum, that is delivered through vouchers, is not held centrally.

The Government have no current plans to review the operation of voucher schemes.