Examination of Witnesses (Questions 213-225)|
DR ROB BERKELEY, GEMMA BRADSHAW, DAVID CONGDON AND
20 DECEMBER 2010
Q213 Chair: Good afternoon.
Thank you very much indeed for coming. My name is George Hollingbery.
I am not traditionally the Chair of this group. I'm afraid the
Chair has not yet managed to make it down to London. I apologise
in advance to you and to the assembled audience because I am not
as well briefed on these papers as I would have been had I known
I was going to chair the meeting. Please excuse me up front for
perhaps not being quite as fluent on these issues as I might otherwise
We are scheduled to finish this session at 5
o'clock, and I will be ruthless in ensuring that we do. At this
time of year, everyone has other things to do. There are four
of you, and if questions have been answered, please don't repeat
those answers, but if you feel you have something to add, feel
free to make a commentdon't feel inhibited in any way,
shape or form.
The first thing that occurred to me when I looked
at your submissions was that you are all very nervous about the
idea of localism, particularly as you are mostly national organisations.
There seemed to be a unanimous belief among you that there were
real problems for minority groups when power was devolved down.
It is also fair to observe that lots of you
talked about the spottiness in the provision of services. Even
under the current system, it is fairly clear, is it not, that
centralisation hasn't delivered an absence of postcode lotteries;
there are different outcomes in different places. Just explain
a little further for us and for the audience generally why localism
could be dangerous for minority groups and why postcode lotteries
are necessarily a bad thing.
David Congdon: I am David Congdon
from Mencap. As you say, localism is not new, in the sense that
lots of services are delivered locally; indeed, on the one hand,
most of the work that Mencap does is delivered locally through
contracts with social services for housing and support under community
care legislation. We then have a large number of local groups
doing all sorts of things at a local level who are funded by individual
local authorities and who often provide low-level support to people
who fall outside the eligibility criteria set by social services
under community care legislation.
The concern generally is not so much about localism
in principle, because localism is here, it's been here a long
time and the trend is obviously to accelerate responsibility downward.
The concern is that when decisions are taken at a local level,
they are inevitably based on pressures at a local level. People
at a local levelcouncillors, in particularknow best
what needs to be done in their area, but there is a danger that
minority-group interests can be missed out, although that does
not necessarily have to occur.
The generalised example that I would give is
that things that are very visible tend to bethis is not
always the casethe things that will be protected. I probably
shouldn't mention street cleaning in the current climate, with
snow all over the pavements, but things like that are very visible,
as are things like town centre environmental issues. If the eligibility
criteria for social care services to individuals with, say, a
learning disability are cut, and those individuals see their day
activity decline from, say, five days a week to three days a week,
the only people who know about that are the individuals concerned
and their families. That is the danger.
A general point would be that, with increasing
localism, there is a need to have mechanisms in placea
framework for accountability is the sort of thing we need. It
is very hard to define exactly what that should contain, but we
need something to ensure that, as far as possible, what the Government
will through fundingmost funding for local authorities
comes from Governmentactually gets delivered at a local
Vic Rayner: I'm Vic Rayner. I'm
the chief exec of Sitra, which is a national membership body that
focuses particularly on housing care and support. A lot of the
housing-related support services provided have been funded primarily
through the Supporting People programme. Part of our concern,
which we raised in our submission, comes from looking at Supporting
People as a kind of microcosm of the impact of localism. Two years
ago, Supporting People went from an essentially ring-fenced fund,
to one that was not ring-fenced through the area-based grant.
Our concern is that some of the things that have happened since
the lifting of that ring fence, and the way that those things
have impacted on the provision of services to the most vulnerable
people and the engagement of those people in the development of
future services and provision, could be played out on a wider
scale through wider devolvement.
Q214 Chair: I am interested
in the actual evidence. Could you develop that a little further?
There is no need to name names, but just tell us roughly what
happened and how it affected vulnerable groups.
Vic Rayner: In 2009, the ring
fence was lifted and Supporting People became a named grant within
the area-based grant. Over the past 18 months, a number of high-profile
authorities took very significant cuts to the Supporting People
programme, which came into effect at the end of last year and
the beginning of this financial year. Some research has looked
at the impact of those cuts within the localities, and we're already
beginning to see some of the changes and reap some of the impact
of that. I can give more information to the Committee if it would
like to look at research carried out by one of the Link services
in a locality that made severe cuts to SP funding in 2010-11.
The level of cuts is talked about across local
authorities, and Supporting People funding is seen as one of the
budgets that may take a very significant hit. Some research carried
out by ADAS came out last week. It stated that 82% of adult social
care directors felt that SP funding would have little or limited
protection in the round of cuts. Part of what we see is that although
the nationally prescribed Supporting People funding was given
"relative protection" within the spending review, as
it goes out to local authorities for decision making, it is seen
as a high risk and a budget that could be taken away from meeting
the needs of the most vulnerable.
Q215 Chair: But that is not
necessarily a reflection of problems with localism as much as
with cuts. I understand that the localism element is making those
people vulnerable, rather than the allocation of the budget, but
the fact that there is a context of cuts at the same time is perhaps
a rather poisoned chalice.
Vic Rayner: Potentially, having
the decision about the ring fence made at a time of significant
economic pressure might be part of that picture. At the same time,
the level of cuts being talked about does not necessarily bear
a direct relationship to the level of cuts that the authority
is receiving as a whole. The impact on the most vulnerable in
that setting will be more significant than the potential cut to
the authority as a whole. Again, there are examples of authorities
now out in consultation that are looking at cuts of between 40%
and 67% to SP funding, whereas the cuts to the authority over
the four-year period would not be anything like that. It feels
as though there is a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable
within that sitting.
The other part of the issue concerns the engagement
of those most vulnerable within the decision-making structures.
A year or so ago we carried out research looking at the engagement
of the most vulnerable people within the local strategic partnership
framework. Already, some significant challenges were emerging
in getting the voices of the most vulnerable heard within that
decision-making process. As David mentioned, it feels as though,
without careful support and investment in working out the right
framework for that engagement and the future, the needs of the
most vulnerable would be pushed out of that decision-making process.
Chair: I am already breaking my own rules
about time keeping. Sorry.
Gemma Bradshaw: I am Gemma Bradshaw
from Age UK. As we say in our submission, we raised some concerns
about the idea of localism, but that was more about the limits
that we want to put on localism rather than localism itself. We
think that if you have more community engagement and involvement
in a localism framework, you would actually improve outcomes for
older people. The question is how do you ensure that that happens
within a new localism framework. Unfortunately, we have seen in
the past that when local authorities have been given more flexibility
about their priorities, they haven't always prioritised older
people. For instance, when they were given the flexibility within
the local area agreement to pick indicators for what the priorities
were in their area, although there were three indicators that
focused on tackling poverty and greater independence for people
in later life, only a handful of local authorities picked those
indicators. Obviously, that was part of a different system, and
there may be many reasons why those indicators weren't picked,
but it showed that at a point when they had to prioritise, particularly
when they had a growing and ageing population, they didn't take
the opportunity to focus minds on that particular issue.
We want to make sure that when local authorities
are given greater freedom and more flexibility, there are certain
checks and balances in that process. Meaningful participation
is a particularly important part of this, and we need to make
sure that minority groups are able to do that. Many older people
also face different forms of discriminationgender, sexuality,
raceand we need to think about how we bring all these people
into the process.
I'm also particularly concerned about accountability
and whether there is some possibility still to have national outcomes
that all local authorities will be looking at. We're going to
have outcomes for health and social care which local authorities
will be looking at, and they could be coming in balance, whereas
there aren't national outcomes for other services that they'll
be looking into.
Q216 Chair: We will come on
to accountability a little later, so we'll move on if we can.
Dr Berkeley: Robert Berkeley from
the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank. You described
us as nervous about localism, but we're really excited about the
potential that localism could provide. What we would be excited
about is a real form of democratic local accountability that works
for everybody in those areas, but we know that there are some
major challenges to get there. The leap to localism suggests that
there is an end point but not much of a story about how you get
there: how you get competent citizens, well informed, with the
information that they might need in order to take part in that.
That's going to be particularly true for those in marginalised
groups, who may have a different set of experiences around public
services in the past, but also educational experiences etc.
The spectre that comes most to mind in terms
of issues around race equality is Travellers and the failure to
deliver Traveller sites over a long period of time. There are
increasing worries in Traveller communities about localism and
what it will mean in terms of the difficulties in getting those
You mentioned postcode lotteries. We recognise
that there's a massive diversity of experience of services across
different spaces and places, but a lottery doesn't seem to describe
it, because too often, there are certain areas that do badly and
some areas that very rarely win. We find that those areas that
experience high levels of deprivation are often those areas where
people from minority ethnic communities are clustered. We understand
that there will be a diversity of services and a diversity of
outcomes, but we are very keen to understand what the minimum
safeguards need to be in all areas across the country.
Q217 Stephen Gilbert: I am
struck, reading your submissions, that there seems to be a sense
that all the organisations are after a remaining degree of centralised
control and some centralised targets. I put it to you that you're
trying to have your cake and eat it. On the one hand, you're welcoming
localism, but you're saying, "Only this kind of localism
is acceptable." Looking at the removal of ring-fencing for
Supporting People, for example, what specific concerns are there
about the removal of ring-fencing and of the national targets
that go with it?
Gemma Bradshaw: We've seen a number
of examples where the removal of ring-fencing in particular around
funding has meant that we have not seen the outcomes that we were
looking for. I would move it away from targets and saying that
there are specific numbers of things you need to a more generic
understanding of what expectations people have of our local authorities.
This is particularly important if we are removing any kind of
performance management system, because if people, as individuals,
are supposed to be challenging the local authority and saying,
"This is what I expect," they don't necessarily have
any understanding of what they have the right to expect. I'm talking
about people having some understanding of what outcomes they may
have for certain services. Maybe that's where I'm trying to have
my cake and eat it.
Vic Rayner: I'm not sure about
having my cake and eating it. Certainly in our submission to this
inquiry and in the previous submission about the lifting of the
SP ring fence, we have been asking for serious consideration of
reinstatement of the ring fence, particularly around more disadvantaged
groups. Part of the rationale for that is that there are significant
concerns that those particular groupsperhaps those that
aren't necessarily the most electorally popular or those that
don't have a voice within the electorate because they're in prison
currently or are outside the electoral systemmay need additional
For me, there doesn't seem to be a particular
dichotomy between central Government giving some direction about
the money that is allocated for Supporting People spending and
then saying to the local authority, "You have some responsibility
to spend that in the way that you see fit through a need strategy."
In relation to Supporting People, although there was some central
direction about the money and some of the processes in place,
how that money was spent was very much based on a local agenda,
a local strategy and local involvement, particularly of service
users and those within the community, regarding the kind of services
that were required. It doesn't seem to me that it's necessary
to say, "Here's localism. We're stepping away completely
from any responsibility."
The other point on Supporting People funding
is that the money that was put together to make up Supporting
People involved a partnership of funding. It wasn't just the local
authorities' money. The local authorities then became administering
authorities. What needs to be in place is an understanding of
how all those partners can be involved in further decision making,
whereas at the moment, the way in which cuts, certainly, are being
portrayed is that this is a local authority making a decision
about its own money, and actually that money came from a very
significant partnership including other members.
David Congdon: May I add to that?
This adds to what I was saying earlier. We've certainly always
argued that we prefer ring-fencing, unashamedly. We recognise
the debate has moved on, so there's no point, in a sense, in going
over that, but it still leaves the fundamental question that if
Parliament or a Government Department says, "We want to spend
£1.4 billion on Supporting People," or says "We
want to spend this money over the next four years, building up
to £1 billion, on new social care reform grant," what
framework is in place to ensure that money is spent broadly in
the way that Parliament intends?
We recognise we're moving into a scenario of
outcome frameworks, particularly in the field of social care.
Again, there is no disagreement in principle, but there is quite
a challenge in ensuring that that does actually mean what it says
on the tinthat you do end up with the £1 billion in
that example, along with the other £16 billion spent on social
care, delivering improved lives for the group that it is intended
to deliver for. I don't in any way underestimate the challenge
of doing that. We have regulators and inspectors who don't always
identify when things are going wrong. We have the Public Accounts
Committee and bodies like that, but the more money is devolvedan
enormous amount of money is devolved; there is no problem with
thatmaking sure that it does deliver in the way intended
is, we would argue, very important, particularly for marginal
groups, but not just for marginal groups.
Q218 Simon Danczuk: My question
relates to what you've been talking about. It is about what national
safeguards need to be put in place for vulnerable and minority
groups. If that is to be the case, how do Government decide which
vulnerable and minority groups should be protected?
David Congdon: I wish I could
give you a definitive answer. It is easy to analyse the problem.
I have read some of the previous evidence, which does highlight
some of those difficulties. At one level, there has been an inspectorate
that has changed its form from CSCI to the Care Quality Commission.
I am slightly nervous to say that that is a panacea, because I
think of some of the things that have gone wrong on its watch,
if I may put it that way.
Nevertheless, despite the difficulties, having
a framework that says that we are trying to achieve certain things
for this group of people and then monitoring it in not too heavy
a detailed and bureaucratic way but in a broad way, has to be
the way to go. Ultimately, in the field of social care, often
to check what is going on, you have to have inspections on the
ground, what quality of care is being delivered, both in residential
care homes and in supported living situations, and then try to
do that at a macro level as well. Simply to say that we have inspected
some homes and they are doing well does not necessarily answer
the question, "Is that group of people getting a good quality
outcome from that particular social services department?"
It is a challenge: I wish I could give you a more definitive answer.
What we want to do is flag up that that there is a need to have
mechanisms in place that ensure that degree of accountability.
Dr Berkeley: Some groups are protected
by the Equality Act 2010. It is worth thinking about how the Equality
Act is put into action, particularly with the proposed cuts to
the Equality and Human Rights Commission and, at a local level,
what kind of local transparency and forms of accountability could
be developed. We had an extensive structure of race equality councils
across the country. In 2007 there were 100, now they are down
to 42 and they seem to be declining. I was in Gloucester recently
and there was one member of staff in the race equality council.
I am keen to go with the spirit and suggest that localism can
deliver, given local accountability to local citizens, but the
structures need to be in place. I suspect that they are not currently.
I do not hear any plans to support and establish those local organisations
that might begin to hold local authorities to account a bit more
Gemma Bradshaw: May I add a point
on the public sector equality duty? That is an important piece
of legislation coming through. It is a particularly big step forward
for age discrimination. We want to raise the concern that, when
we start to look at new models, it is not just the local authority
any more, it will be community and voluntary groups. How will
the public sector duty transfer to them when they start looking
at running services? We are concerned that we don't lose what
has been a big step forward when we start looking at the new models
Vic Rayner: I have a couple of
quick points about safeguarding. That I suppose goes to the supported
people services, but the quality assessment framework has been
developed and intended as a localism tool for quality management.
It looks at services very much from a local perspective, involving
service users within the inspection framework. From that point
of view, it works as a good mechanism and tool for accountability.
Another area of concern in the shift from Supporting
People funding into formula grant is about that transparency and
accountability, and about how once that money is put within formula
grant, how difficult it is going to be to hold the local authority
to account about the level of funding it is spending on Supporting
People and housing related support services, and therefore how
effective and appropriate those services are for the local community.
There are big issues there about how safeguarding at a national
level can be thought through in terms of how that national funding
is being allocated, then taking that further to a local level
to say, "Within our locality we have this much money that
should be spent on housing related support, because it has been
identified as a need." Yet it is going to be very difficult
to hold that local authority to account. There are concerns there.
Q219 David Heyes: The area
that I was going to ask questions about has been covered to a
great extent, so I think that my question only needs a brief response
from each of you. Whatever your concerns or worries about the
role of local authorities in this, including whether they need
some direction or framework from the centre, they are still key
players and will continue to be key players. What should they
do themselves? What can local authorities themselves do to improve
their understanding of local needs and to ensure that we avoid
some of these traps that you are fearful of?
David Congdon: One of the things
is consulting very deliberately with minority groups. We would
say, as a learning disability charity, that they should do more
consultation with people with a learning disability. In fact,
there is a mechanism at the local level, called learning disability
partnership boards, which was set up in 2001 when "Valuing
People" started out with the original White Paper. There
was a subsequent document, "Valuing People Now", a couple
of years ago.
One of the problems with those mechanisms is
that they are not on a statutory basis, and the research evidence
is that they are often marginalised. So one message that we want
to put across very much is that local authorities should engage
very powerfully and deliberately with minority groups and listen
to them, to enable them to play a part in that local democratic
Dr Berkeley: I would add that
just being transparent is not enough; being accountable is important
too. So it is not just a case of publishing reams and reams of
Excel sheets, but of trying to find ways of giving that accountability
back to citizens. There are some really good examples, as in Ipswich
in Suffolk, where the Race Equality Council has produced a scorecard
that is very accessible for the local citizens, which is worth
having a think about.
However, the fact that those local organisations
are disappearing at such an incredibly fast rate suggests that
local authorities are already standing back from supporting local
organisations that challenge them. I think that local authorities
should welcome some of that challenge, rather than always responding
negatively to it.
Gemma Bradshaw: I would agree
with both those points and I would add that it depends on how
you carry out this consultation and engagement. We did some research
looking at the latest NHS proposals, and 60% of the older people
we surveyed agreed that local decision making is the right way
to go. They also agreed that they would like to be involved in
some way; but when you ask them if they want to be on a committee
or involved in a consultation, the figures fall to less than 10%
in many cases.
So you've got to think about what people are
getting out of this process. Do they feel like they are really
influencing the change, or are they just part of another tick-box
exercise? I think it's how you do this that matters.
Chair: Simon, I think that that leads
us on to the next question that you wanted to ask, so perhaps
we can move on to that.
Q220 Simon Danczuk: Yes. You
were mentioning some ideas that have been used to involve marginalised
groups or vulnerable groups in the local democratic process. Overall,
do you think that local authorities are particularly good or particularly
bad at that, and do they need to get better if localism is going
to be successful?
David Congdon: That is a really
difficult question to answer. When we looked at some consultation
exercises that have gone on, my criticism would be that they are
often misleading in terms of what they are consulting on. So,
to give you a practical example, one of the issues in the learning
disability field is about day centre modernisation, which most
of us would agree is a good thing. Sometimes when you read the
consultation documents, the words are fantastic, the vision is
fantastic, but where is the meat? What will it actually mean for,
say, the 800 users of existing facilities? Is there a guarantee
that they will get some alternative, because that is often the
issuewhich alternative is better?
When you read the consultation documents, it
is often quite difficult to know what the consultation is really
saying. So, the consultation has to be really meaningful and it
must be very straightforward in clear, accessible language that
anybody can understand. Otherwise, you get not a lot of people
responding and, if they do respond it is not terribly meaningful
in terms of an answer. So there should be an honest, straightforward,
transparent consultation about what the issues really are and
a willingness to follow the responsenot always to follow
it rigidly but certainly to take on board those concerns.
I've seen consultations where the response has
been pretty negative, but you wouldn't know it when you read the
report that's gone back to the council committee. That's not
fair. It has to be open, fair and transparent.
Vic Rayner: I think the other
point I would add to that is that it's not a cost-free option.
A meaningful consultation is expensive and involves time, and
really to get to the bottom of how people feel and can get involved
in the community isn't something that's going to be easy and straightforward;
but there are huge numbers of good practice examples out there,
and I think, just to pick up on Mr Heyes's point as well, it is
about what can local authorities learn around engagement. I think
it is partly about listening to partners, because there will be
partners that they can work with who've got very effective and
key routes into working with the more vulnerable people. There
needs to be perhaps a levelling of that partnership approach that
enables those voices to be heard at the right leveland
getting people engaged early enough in order to have some kind
of meaningful dialogue within there. But there are some very
good examples out therevery creative, inspirational examples
where people have made that changeand it fits into that
model of encouraging active citizenship and encouraging people
to move and become part of their community.
Q221 David Heyes: Where?
Can you name them, exactly?
Vic Rayner: We've done quite a
lot of work up in Bradford with the service user forum therea
very active, very engaged group of people who have contributed
not just to agendas around supporting people but around a whole
wide range of areas. There are other examples in Bolton and Torbay.
These were all leading examples of authorities that really took
on board service user engagement.
Q222 Simon Danczuk: It does
puzzle me thoughthis is the questionthat this doesn't
seem to apply across the board of local authorities, or to the
majority. It's always good practice examples in a small minority
of local authorities, which causes me some concern.
Dr Berkeley: You are right to
point to this, because there is a real problem with us not knowing.
We know that there's a lot of activity going on. We don't know
what the impact of that activity is, or what the outputs are,
so there are numerous BME forums up and down and around the country.
The people who take part say that they had a very nice afternoon.
Whether that actually has left them feeling more involved or more
engaged in decision changing, they are not sure. The citizenship
survey seems to highlight that there are certain groups that constantly
feel left behind, left out, of decision making, but we may not
have that citizenship survey much longer.
Gemma Bradshaw: Similarly, we
have examples of where our local partners, Age Concern, or Age
UK, have been involved with the local authority, helping them
to point to the priority needs, but they have been also been able
to help facilitate some of the discussions, which might otherwise
might have been more difficult. For instance, in Rotherham, Age
Concern has been working in the residential care sector, working
with families and residents so that they can influence their service
and change the service in Rotherham. That's an area where normally
people in residential care wouldn't necessarily feel that they
could communicate or change their services. But, as you say,
it is trying to make sure that these good ideas are across the
Q223 Chair: Dr Berkeley, you
might want to stay for the next session if you have the time,
because we're going to be talking to the Audit Commission about
monitoring outputs and so on, so it might be of some interest
to you to come along to that.
I was going to ask about the danger of services
becoming atomised in your particular fields. I think I already
have the answer to that. I suspectthere's not much point
in pushing thisyou believe, although this may be putting
words in your mouth, that there is a real risk of these services
becoming atomised across the country, and so individually delivered
that you lose the strategic approach. It did prompt, though,
another thought in me, which is: I just wonder if you, as organisations,
have been able to tease out and separate the danger that your
organisations face in terms of national policies and the ease
of dealing with one organisation rather than a whole myriad across
the country, and whether some of your thinking might be coloured
by that. It's an unfair question, to be honest, but I think we're
all human beings and it's worth asking it.
David Congdon: I think it certainly
makes campaigning harderthere's no doubt about that. I
reflect on the fact that you can fight very hard to get laws changed,
which is a typical campaigning activity, but then actually you've
got to fight 152 local battles to get change on the ground. But
I think a broader point is that balance between what should be
decided nationally and what should be decided locally is critical.
In the social care field, all the reading of the work done on
the previous Government's consultations on the Green Paper and
the White Paper showed there was a strong consensus on some significant
strategic changes in terms of having a much stronger national
framework, albeit with a local delivery mechanism. From the provision
point of view, most of our organisation's work is done through
bilateral negotiation with individual local authorities, so what
you're talking about doesn't really make any difference to that.
Q224 Chair: Listening to what's
been said, it occurs to me that in another areathe NHSthe
Government are looking at separating a national commissioning
service and a local commissioning service, so these things aren't
without precedent across Government.
Vic Rayner: This is back to the
cake, isn't it? When you talk about services being atomised, meaning
that it's very difficult to compare like with like, it's important
to mention that we're not seeking to have a completely standardised
housing-related support service that looks exactly the same and
feels exactly the same in every locality. That's not what we're
focusing on. I completely agree with David that, in terms of influencing
policy, life will be more challenging as we think how to work
with different authorities, but we do that all through our membership
structure anyway, because our members work with different authorities.
You're not talking just about changes to membership
or national bodies like ourselves. Many of our providersparticularly
those working in Londonmight work across 30 or 40 different
authorities. One of the other challenges that comes from taking
away ring-fencing or the national parameters that determine how
funding will be applied is that bodies need to think about how
to meet the commissioning structures, the different priorities
and the different monitoring and regulatory arrangements for different
authorities. The challenge for voluntary and community sector
organisations, which are already trying to meet authorities' efficiency
targets through their commissioning procurement structures, is
So, yes, supporting our members in that will
add to the challenges of organisations like ourselves, and our
members are already incredibly challenged by the changes that
are in effect and those that are coming in the future. You mentioned
the changes around the commissioning of health services in the
future and the fact that we will potentially have two local funding
sections. Provider organisations and, therefore, the service users
they work with will need to understand and engage with them to
be effective local participants in strategy formation.
Gemma Bradshaw: We are a national
organisation. Obviously, local Age UKs and local Age Concerns
have been influencing things in this way for many, many years.
It will give us some challenges, but from working in partnership
alreadyproviding services, but also influencing thingswe've
seen that localism can work. That's why we're cautiously positive
Dr Berkeley: We're 15 people in
the corner of east London. We have always tried, and we will continue
to try, to give people the evidence and information they need
actually to make a difference at their local level.
Q225 Chair: Thank you very
much for coming in today. I feel we haven't really done you justice,
so I apologise for that. My sincere and extended thanks for coming
in on a particularly difficult day. I hope you feel you've had
a chance to say everything you wished to. You've got two minutes
left. If there are any burning points that you wanted to get on
the record, but which you haven't been asked about, please fire
Vic Rayner: You mentioned the
challenge of moving to a local agenda, but we as an organisation
feel that that will not stop us talking to central Government,
and trying to encourage central Government to continue taking
a leadership role on the protection of the most vulnerable people
and honouring the direction that they set out in terms of making
sure that the most vulnerable are protected. That's our continuing
Chair: Splendid. Thank you very much
indeed for your time.