Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 8th February 1999.

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Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Conservative, South West Surrey 3:30 pm, 8th February 1999

I, for one, want to welcome a statement on carers. Recognition of carers and their interests is essential, and for the Government to play to their strengths and to be involved in promotion and publicity in this area is a step forward in itself.

I declare my interests, which go back 20 years, although they do not go back 30 years to the Rev. Mary Webster. For many years, I was the late Baroness Sear's vice-chairman at the Carers National Association, and am currently a vice-president. I am president of the Isle of Wight branch, which I founded, and am closely involved in the Guildford and Waverley branch.

There is a crisis of confidence, and I ask the Minister to take one specific step. Please will he write to me setting out the detail of how the home counties, and Surrey in particular, are to cope? They have had the £6 million transitional grant for community care confiscated and their increase for health is the lowest in the country. People are living longer and many live alone. The error that they commit is to be healthy and long lived. That penalises them in the Government' s funding formula, and the anguish at present in Surrey is such as I have never previously known it.

I welcome the statement, but please will the Minister—to clarify that point—respond to me, identifying how Surrey is to cope in the light of the savage social services and health settlements?