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Lord Swinfen: I, too, should declare an interest in the amendment, as the John Groom Association for Disabled People for whom I work already runs two agencies which provide domiciliary care for physically disabled people. I know that the association experiences difficulty in finding suitable carers to work in people's private homes. It is a matter of ensuring that one has the right standard of worker, as regards both care and honesty; and, indeed, that applies in the way in which the agency operates. One must ensure that it does its
I strongly support the amendment. The wording may not be ideal, but I hope that my noble friend the Minister will take it on board and, if she does not accept it, perhaps she will bring forward an amendment of her own at a later stage.
Baroness Cumberlege: I fully understand the concerns that have been expressed by Members of the Committee. Indeed, the Committee may be aware that a major review is currently taking place of the way in which social services are regulated and inspected. Part of the remit of that review is to consider whether non-residential services should be subject to regulation. The amendment seeks to introduce regulation of independent provision in the context of direct payments. We consider that it would be jumping the gun to introduce regulation in that way while the whole subject is being reviewed. We do not know what the outcome of the review will be and whether or not it recommends that we regulate non-residential care. Once we know the outcome of the review, we shall then consider its implications for direct payments.
There are already safeguards for direct payments recipients. No one will be forced to take on a direct payment; if an individual is concerned that he will not be able--even with help--to manage, then he does not have to accept a direct payment. Also, Clause 2 of the Bill means that if someone is unable to secure the services for which the direct payments are given, it will be the local authority's responsibility to arrange those services. So people should not find themselves without the care which the authority has said that they should have. Therefore, we do not support the amendment.
Lord Carter: The Minister's response is a little disappointing. The noble Baroness referred to the major review of both regulation and inspection, but could she give the Committee some idea of when that might be reported? Further, can she say when the review will be concluded and what the procedure will be; for example, will there be a public report, or how will it be handled?
Baroness Cumberlege: If I think terribly deeply, I believe that I can dredge my mind and produce more information. But at this very moment I cannot quite remember who is responsible. I believe that someone called Burgner is chairing the committee. Perhaps I may write to the noble Lord on the matter.
Lord Carter: I am extremely grateful to the Minister for that very clear reply. I entirely sympathise with the way that she feels. Indeed, we are all glad to see the Minister back in her place and no doubt it has been a most tiring day for her. I certainly do not wish to press the matter this evening. Perhaps we may talk about it between this and the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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