To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will take account of the costs of implementing the recommendations of the Howe inquiry into residential staff in relation to pay, training and development, in the revenue support grant settlement for local authorities in 1993–94.
The cost of those new burdens, which the Government accept local authorities necessarily face, including any costs that may arise from the recommendations of the Howe inquiry, will be taken into account when decisions are taken on the revenue support grant settlement for 1993–94.
I should like to be able to welcome that statement, but, unfortunately, the Minister was unable to say whether those resources will be fully met. Does he agree with me and most other people who are concerned about residential care—whether of children, the mentally disabled or the elderly—that those residents must be looked after with the highest quality of care and that that can be given only by highly motivated and properly trained professionals? Does he not also recognise that it is time that the Government put their money where their mouth is and instead of just talking about community care, gave local councils the cash to provide it?
I note what the hon. Lady says. She is probably aware that such detailed matters are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. However, I can tell her that the settlement will reflect both the need for local authority spending and, importantly, what council tax payers and the country as a whole can afford.
Will the Under-Secretary tell us why the provisional grant settlement has been deferred from July until the autumn? When will the community as a whole be told how much it will receive in grants and allocations from the Department of Social Security so that it can plan ahead? That information is necessary to make community care a reality and to allow authorities to do the essential job of putting the ground work in place and so ensure that the most vulnerable in society do not suffer because of the row between his Department, the Department of Social Security and the Treasury about how much money should be made available.
I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's comments. He knows that it is in the general interests of local government and central Government that next year services, not least the provision of care in the community to which reference has been made, and the introduction of the new tax should go through as smoothly as possible. The Government are determined that that will be so and that is why we have announced that the decision will be made in the autumn.