Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I am very much aware of the commitment and support of my noble

12 Feb 1996 : Column 463

friend Lady Faithfull for a social work council and regulation generally. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, and the noble Earl previously expressed their concern with regard to regulation in this area. We share that concern. We are now undertaking a major review 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. As my noble friend Lord Swinfen and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, pointed out, this is a very difficult area. I do not envy the task of the review team. But we consider that it would be jumping the gun to introduce regulation of the kind of independent provision about which we have been talking tonight in the context of direct payments while the whole subject is being reviewed.

The review was launched by the publication of the consultation document Moving Forward in September 1995, fulfilling our earlier promise to consider the need for statutory regulation of day and domiciliary care services. We appointed an independent assessor, Tom Burgner, to lead the consultation process. His job is to receive and assess written responses to Moving Forward and to hold direct discussions with relevant bodies. We believe that Tom Burgner's background as a successful public servant, most recently as Secretary of the Chancellors and Vice-Principals of the Universities, has equipped him well to distil the outcome of a major public consultation exercise and to make recommendations balancing all interests.

Responses to the consultation document have to be submitted to Tom Burgner by the end of this month. He will then make his report to Ministers in the summer. We expect the report to be published. How the issues are handled after that will, of course, depend on the recommendations and their legislative implications. We do not know what the outcome of the review will be and whether it will recommend that we regulate non-residential care. But once we know the outcome of the review we shall consider its implications for direct payments.

Baroness Faithfull: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply and also thank all those who have spoken. I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), made nine points. I hope that she will forgive me if I do not go through all of them. First, if such a council were to be set up, it would include the voluntary organisations, as I said, and there would be co-operation between the two. Also, there must be co-operation between the local authorities and the voluntary organisations, to which she referred.

I was asked to move the amendment by the Directors of Social Services, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the Association of County Councils. It is not a question of one taking over from the other. It would be co-operation between the two. It is very important that the statutory and voluntary bodies work closely together.

I did not envisage that the amendment would deal with details. Those will be for the local authority and the voluntary organisations concerned. It concerns much more the policies and structures. However, I realise that

12 Feb 1996 : Column 464

we have not consulted with the bodies and we shall do so before the next stage. I shall also answer the nine points made by the noble Baroness. It is absolutely essential that there are joint policies between voluntary organisations and the local authorities.

Obviously, I do not intend to press the amendment. I should be grateful if I could discuss it further with the Minister and bring it up at the next stage of the Bill. I withdraw it for today.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 15 not moved.]

Clause 4 [Direct payments]:

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Cumberlege moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 3, leave out lines 26 to 30 and insert--
("(5) If the authority by whom a payment under subsection (1) above is made are not satisfied, in relation to the whole or any part of the payment--
(a) that it has been used to secure the provision of the service to which it relates, or
(b) that the condition imposed by subsection (3) above, or any condition properly imposed by them, has been met in relation to its use,
they may require the payment or, as the case may be, the part of the payment to be repaid.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 17:

Leave out Clause 4.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, perhaps I may explain why I seem to be opposing the extension of this good scheme of reasonably sound principle to Scotland. I believe that it is a little too restrictive and I ask the fundamental question: is it necessary in Scotland? I have already given examples which indicate that the scheme is already being practised in Scotland to some extent and that it is legal.

I received two written Answers to parliamentary Questions which were extremely helpful. The first was a response from the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, when I asked about local authority powers under Section 12 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act. He replied that a local authority may give cash to,

    "any person aged at least 18 years who is in need, within the meaning of the Act, and requiring assistance in exceptional circumstances constituting an emergency, and where to do so would be more cost effective".--[Official Report, 25/1/96; col. WA81.]
Clearly two conditions need to be fulfilled before a local authority can give cash, so the latter part of the Answer was extremely helpful.

Similarly, on 7th February the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, in response to a further written Question, came up with the helpful reply that:

    "Local authorities have powers under Section 10(3) of the 1968 [Social Work (Scotland)] Act to make payments to certain voluntary organisations which may be used to assist individual adults purchase community care services".--[Official Report, 7/2/96; col. WA25.]

12 Feb 1996 : Column 465

I feel quite confident therefore that the schemes which are presently running in Scotland and any others which may come along are working from a legal base and are therefore not in need of further legislation.

I wish to mention three schemes that are already running in Scotland. Both in Strathclyde and Lothian there are centres for integrated living and the Lothian scheme is already helping with direct payments for people with physical handicaps, learning disabilities or mental health problems or who are elderly. The main problems encountered by that scheme relate to arguments with social security and taxation departments.

I have already mentioned in passing the Whins Independent Living Scheme. Perhaps I may give a number of examples of what that scheme does on a broad base. It provides a 24-hour package of assistance for an individual who is tetraplegic and returned to the community from an acute hospital unit following a road accident. It provides 24-hour assistance for an individual who is deaf and blind who moved into the community from long-term hospital care. It provides 24-hour assistance for an individual who suffered a brain injury and recently moved from the family home to his own home in the community. It provides 24-hour care Monday to Friday for a physically disabled person who has a learning disability: there are flexible care hours at the weekend when his elderly mother returns from hospital where she is currently receiving treatment for cancer. The scheme provides constant overnight assistance for a terminally ill person, providing support and respite for the daughter who is the main carer. It provides 24-hour assistance for a physically disabled single parent who has a young daughter, and assistance three days a week for a physically disabled child while attending a family centre. I am certain that noble Lords will agree that that is a broad client group rather wider than that envisaged by the provisions for England and Wales.

The Whins Independent Living Scheme is already providing 3,000 hours of assistance, which represents £500,000. It delivers that help to 100 members and employs 140 assistants. I should point out that the scheme helps members to select their own assistants; it trains the assistants; it offers employer services and will help clients work out rotas; it offers a relief scheme through which members often loan staff to each other in the event of illness and, if necessary, the scheme's headquarters will provide emergency staff. The scheme negotiates with the Department of Health and Social Security in Stirling. The key is that each member has the determination to live independently, and I praise the Central Region social work department for that bright idea.

In Scotland there is anxiety among social work departments and voluntary organisations in relation to the guidance and who will write it for Scotland; there is considerable anxiety also in relation to the age restrictions of 18 to 65 for the physically handicapped. We hope that that regulation will not apply in Scotland. Indeed, perhaps the Minister can tell us who will control

12 Feb 1996 : Column 466

the regulations in Scotland. I hope the answer is that it will be the Secretary of State for Scotland, and I look forward with interest to the Minister's reply.

To add a little political dimension to the argument, the issue I am raising concerns the classic problem of a split in administrative and legislative devolution. I am certain that it could be more easily dealt with in a Scottish parliament with less confusion--but I suspect that I would think that. I believe that the Bill would give us duplication of legislation. In the case of many amendments that I have tabled in the past I have been firmly rejected on the grounds of being unnecessarily explicit when the Government believed that a more implicit approach was appropriate. I hope therefore that it can be established that this legislation is not necessary for Scotland and that fewer restrictions will be imposed for Scotland. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page