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Lord Laming: My Lords, what are the Government doing to highlight the special needs of the growing number of young people who are, sometimes, the principal carer in the family to ensure that their needs are identified and that they are given proper support in the formative years of their life?
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, have the Government anything in mind for improving the supply of professional carers? Has the Minister anything in mind for improving the facilities for offering training to family members who act as carers? Frequently, such people have no training and no idea of what their responsibilities may be, in the case of a family member who is, perhaps, injured. When that person leaves hospital, the situation comes upon the carer suddenly. What help do the Government have in mind?
Lord Warner: My Lords, the Government have hugely increased the amount of money available for health and social care, which has led to a large increase in the number of staff who would be described as professional carers in the sense in which the noble Lord uses the term.
Lord Warner: My Lords, that is all part of the assessment done by social services, when they come to examine the needs of a person with a disability or condition that needs care support in the home. In their assessment, they will take into account the ability of an informal carer to cope.
Baroness Howells of St Davids: My Lords, I am sure that the Minister is aware that more than 300,000 carers miss out on claiming the carer's allowance because they do not know about it. Does the Minister think that social services departments should be more proactive in encouraging carers to claim?
Lord Warner: My Lords, we know that there is a problem, but there has been a huge increase in the number of people who claim the allowance. If last year's experience is anything to go by, carers' rights day will help improve that number.
Responsibility for the carer's allowance rests with the Department for Work and Pensions. It will bring in better claim packs for those benefits in order to simplify the claiming process. The Government will continue to work with councils and the voluntary sector to improve take-up.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the arrangements for social security payments for adults caring for young people with behaviour problems are so complex that it is almost impossible for them to receive their entitlement? I have been lobbied by someone who has two children with identical needs but cannot get the same arrangements for them.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, as someone who has only recently become a carer, may I bring up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, about people leaving hospital? The person whom I look after left hospital just before 1st October, so the arrangements did not apply. Is it now the case that each person who is to look after someone leaving hospital is given a note about their rights and entitlements? I had no idea that I had any rights or entitlements; I may not have.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, it is welcome that the carer's allowance has been extended to people over retirement age. However, because of the financial rules, it is an incredibly complicated process, taking in pension
That is all very well from the point of view of administrators. The important thing is that it should be read and understood by the recipients. That has not always been the history of the Department for Work and Pensions.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, is there, in accordance with the principles of e-government, a website that carers can log on to, input details of their circumstances and get information about their entitlements? If there is, will the Minister give us the URL?
Lord Warner: My Lords, a number of websites is available to carers. They have been developed with Carers UK and other voluntary organisations. I am not familiar with all the websites of the Department for Work and Pensions. I shall look into the matter and write to the noble Lord.
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, is there a mechanism in the noble Lord's department for recognising, when a person is assessed for health needs, that a child may be involved in caring for that person and for flagging up that fact with other departments, without breaching confidentiality with the patient? Is that an aim of the Green Paper? Is the Minister aware of any current mechanism for that?
Lord Warner: My Lords, I am not aware of any mechanisms in the department, but I would have thought that that was a matter for local social services departments, in assessing the circumstances of a carer.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, may I take the opportunity to inform the House that I will be attending a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 9th December? Accordingly, I trust that the House will grant me leave of absence.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, I should like to make the usual comment about the last day before the Recess; that is, Thursday 18th December. The usual channels have agreed that the House should sit at 11 o'clock, with Starred Questions as first business and with no break at lunch.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to amend Part 1 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 to make further provision concerning the Public Prosecution Service established by that Act; to impose a new duty on certain criminal justice organisations in Northern Ireland in relation to human rights standards; to make provision consequential on the dissolution of the Juvenile Justice Board; to amend the law relating to bail in Northern Ireland; to provide for the transfer of certain prisoners from Northern Ireland to England and Wales; to amend Section 103 of the Terrorism Act 2000; to provide for driving while disqualified to be an arrestable offence in Northern Ireland; to re-enact, with amendments, Sections 79 to 81 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 and to make further provision about court security officers in Northern Ireland; and to enable barristers in Northern Ireland to enter into contracts for the provision of their services; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider information and communications services, including the Library and the Parliamentary Archives, within financial limits approved by the House Committee;