Disability Benefits and Social Care

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:03 pm on 20th June 2012.

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Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich 3:03 pm, 20th June 2012

The point I am making is that the benefits system, which was complicated, wrote off a certain group of people. There were laudable aims, because it is right, for example, to give additional support to people with mental health problems, but an important part of their recovery also involves engaging in the workplace, often on a part-time basis and then, if suitable to that person, by moving on to more permanent employment. The previous system did not, however, help enough people with mental health problems to engage properly with the workplace. Mr Byrne earlier represented the position of MIND, which has historically taken that position, in agreement with the comments that I have just made.

On support for, and reform of, the care system, my hon. Friend George Hollingbery said in an intervention that the Government are providing an additional £3.8 billion to the NHS to support better integration with social care. The key to improving and supplying better support for carers, and for other people who look after the long-term disabled, is to ensure that the NHS and social care services are better integrated.

We inherited from the previous Government a system of silo working, with the NHS traditionally working in one of them. For example, the payment-by-results system in many hospitals reinforces the fact that not enough attention is paid to the discharge of people with illness, or to the prevention of people becoming unwell in the first place, and what we need to move away from in the NHS, for financial and human reasons, is a crisis management service that fails to invest in proper preventive care. This Government have already put an additional £400 million into talking therapies, which will help to support people with mental health problems.

The £3.8 billion investment in the NHS to provide such integrated working with local social services will provide the support that carers need on the ground to make sure that many people with mental health problems and physical disabilities get the preventive care that they need. It will also provide an important link in making sure that the frail elderly and people with dementia are no longer inappropriately rushed into hospital but are better cared for and better looked after in the community, and that their carers get the care and support that they need, which keeps carers and patients well.

For all those reasons, the Government have a very strong programme that will deal with several of the problems that this country faces as a result of an over-complex benefits system. Their reform of the benefits system will help people with mental health problems and the long-term disabled to engage with the work place, which is good for their mental health and their recovery. The reformed system will also ensure that the important role that carers play in health care and in social care is properly recognised and properly funded.

It is only under this Government that there has been a genuine approach to integrating health care. It is only through the establishment, through the health care reforms, of health and wellbeing boards that there will for the first time be a genuine joining up of social care, housing care and NHS care at a local level which will allow carers and the disabled, and everybody who is in need of a better and more joined-up community-based care, to be put together in the right way. Those are the very good principles of the reforms to the health care and benefits systems, and I am proud to support the Government today.