Older Persons: Provision of Public Services - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:06 pm on 13th June 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 5:06 pm, 13th June 2019

The agreement put into law in the Digital Economy Act was the power for the BBC to make the decision, so the BBC has done what it is entitled to do and what we gave it responsibility for. What I said was that the Secretary of State expected that because this was part of the agreement reached in 2015, the BBC would do what it said it would do. Oh, I am sorry, that is not true. It said it would do that part of the deal when it was made with the Secretary of State in 2015. The BBC made its decision, which it was entitled to do, and that is the situation.

I do not have much time because I want to allow a little for the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes.

On public services generally, to support care for the elderly the Government have given councils access to around £10 billion of additional dedicated funding for social care over the spending review period, including a £240 million adult social care winter fund for 2018 and 2019 to alleviate pressures on the NHS. This is the biggest injection of funding for winter programmes that councils have ever received. The investment in social care services allowed 65% of local authorities to increase home care provision in 2017 as a direct result of the £2 billion funding boost announced in 2017.

In the medium term, social care funding will be settled in the spending review, when the overall approach to funding local government will be considered in the round. The noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley—who has not given up after 22 years, I am glad to say—mentioned that we will bring forward at the earliest opportunity a Green Paper that will set out our plans to deliver a more sustainable social care system. She asked about the various candidates for leadership. The present Secretary of State, who I used to work with, takes this seriously and is keen to produce it as soon as he can. It will cover care and support for adults of all ages and will bring forward ideas for including an element of risk pooling into the system, which will help to protect people from the highest costs.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, that the Government have an important role in working with charities, businesses, councils and other organisations which are already doing great work in bringing people together. We also have to create an economy which allows the ever-increasing expenditure that the noble Lord desires, otherwise we will simply transfer the problems to our children and grandchildren, which is not what we want.

We expect to publish the first annual report on loneliness later this year.

There are a number of questions that noble Lords have asked but, in the interests of time, I hope they will allow me to write to them and copy other noble Lords in on the answers.