Services for the Elderly

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th November 1979.

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Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South 12:00 am, 13th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representation he has received on the effect of public expenditure cuts on services for the elderly.

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Security)

We have received representations from many organisations, including local authorities, health authorities, trade unions, voluntary organisations, professional bodies and others about the level of resources available for health and personal social services. Each authority has to decide how to match its spending programme to the resources at its disposal. We have made it clear that direct patient services and personal social services for the old and frail should be protected as far as possible.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

Does the Minister accept that the reductions in public expenditure, particularly in such services as home helps and meals on wheels, and the discontinuation of the electricity discount, are likely to place an increasing number of elderly people at risk in the coming winter?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Security)

We have asked local authorities to do their utmost to make the necessary savings in ways that will protect services to patients and vulnerable groups. Some local authorities have achieved the targets that we have set without cutting social services.

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Is my hon. Friend aware that some area health authorities are closing geriatric wards or geriatric hospitals because they regard them as a "soft touch", and that there is no compensating provision of facilities through county social services?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Security)

We have protected health authorities as far as possible from the economic difficulties which we have inherited. We have asked them to adopt the same criterion as the local social services when they make decisions about services for patients.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe

What advice will the Minister give to the old, sick and disabled in Cheshire, where the county council has cut not only transport for the blind and disabled to clubs and meals but has cut down on the numbers of home helps?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Security)

We have defended the amount of money available for joint funding in an effort to overcome some of the problems about the division of responsibilities between the health authorities and the personal social services.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , Knutsford

What epithet would my hon. Friend apply to local authorities such as Haringey, which has apparently decided—

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , Knutsford

Perhaps the hon. Lady will just listen. What does my hon. Friend think of Haringey, which has decided to cut down on personal social services so as to sustain the propaganda broadsheet it put out to ratepayers last month?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Security)

I hope that the local electors in Haringey will come to the correct decision when they next go to the polls.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Following representations that have been made to the hon. Gentleman, is it not a fact that the elderly will suffer from the cuts this winter?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Security)

The right hon. Gentleman should take note of what the director of social services in Newcastle has said. He asked people not to over-react and he said that there were extravagances, waste and some incorrect priorities in our services. He said that the: social services can save money without making vast inroads into existing services.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

Is the Minister satisfied that there are no examples of local authorities which will not be able to meet their statutory obligations in social services, particularly in relation to the elderly, without increasing the rates, because of the implications of the rate support grant?