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Local Government Responsibilities: Public Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:14 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care) 3:14 pm, 18th March 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We will need certainty about those things when we look at the coronavirus emergency Bill, which we will do shortly, but this lands on local authorities at a time when they do not have any certainty. There is much about their financial position that needs to be made clearer to local authorities. I also agree with my hon. Friend: my local authority has had budgets cut by more than 50% since 2010, and we were in what we were calling a crisis in social care even before this happened.

I want to talk more fully about people with dementia and people with learning disabilities. There are a million people with dementia in this country and many people with learning disabilities. Not all of them will be able to comprehend the importance of self-isolation and then act appropriately. What measures and guidance will the Government introduce to help people with learning disabilities or dementia to self-isolate? Many working-age people with disabilities may be more vulnerable. Conditions such as Down syndrome or multiple sclerosis could increase the risk of respiratory infection, and the guidance suggests that people with these conditions would self-isolate. Can the Minister tell us what financial support will be available for them and their families if they have to stop work to do that?

We understand that this is a difficult and challenging time for all, but the Government have talked of using volunteers in health and social care services. People with disabilities and older people who need care have some of the most complex care needs. How will the Government ensure that people with complex needs continue to receive the support and care they need to stay in their own homes?