§ 17. Mr. Andrew Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make a statement on the number of care home beds available in counties south of the Thames. 
§ Dr. Ladyman
The number of care home places in counties south of the Thames at 31 March 2001 was 141,365. This was the last year that the Department of Health collected the data. The National Care Standards Commission now has responsibility for collecting this data.
§ Vera Baird
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the average differential between the cost to local councils of running an old people's care home and the residential fee level for independent care homes, with special reference to Redcar and Cleveland. 
§ Dr. Ladyman
Data on fees charged for independent care home places are not available centrally.
For 2001–02 (the latest figures available), figures provided by councils suggest that the average gross weekly expenditure on supporting older people in council-run care homes in England was £446 and the corresponding expenditure on places in care homes in the independent sector was £286. Caution is needed in interpreting the difference between these figures. This is covered in "Personal Social Services Expenditure and unit costs: England 2001–2002", a copy of which is available in the Library. For example, the difference may in part reflect differences in the dependency of people cared for. Where council-run services are more expensive than those provided by the independent sector, councils need to demonstrate through best value reviews that those higher costs are justified.
According to information reported to the Department by Redcar and Cleveland council, the current gross cost of providing a place in a council-run care home is £456 per week. The average cost for a place in a care home for older people in the independent sector is £292 per week.