Clause 114

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 22nd January 2008.

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Photo of Angela Browning Angela Browning Deputy Chairman, The Conservative Party 6:15 pm, 22nd January 2008

I support the amendment. It brings us back to something about which the Minister has given us verbal reassurance throughout the course of the Bill, but subsection (4)(c) seems to catch all the people we have talked about. I am particularly concerned about the flexibility, which I have already said I support, of direct payments. Many people are employed directly by people who need a package of social care paid for through direct payments from public funds. We have just started to get a breakthrough in that flexible arrangement for people who are befrienders, such as those helping people with mental health problems or with autistic spectrum disorders, who need a package of care that is not the sort we have historically identified with physical disability or old age, but which makes a huge difference to their lives whereby their needs are recognised and they can at last start to take their place in society and do the sort of normal things that the rest of us enjoy but from which they are precluded.

Let us take as an example people who need a care package so that an age-appropriate or gender-appropriate person can accompany them socially—perhaps to go to the pub with them once a week. That may sound rather minuscule and trivial, but it makes a difference and I cannot see how such befrienders and people officially employed with public money will not fall foul of subsection (4)(c). They are just the sort of people who will be caught by that catch-all. Once they are subject to a lot of regulation they will be discouraged from doing those jobs and making themselves available one or two evenings a week. This is important, so I must ask the Minister to address what is on the face of the Bill, as it seems to fly in the face of some of his earlier reassurances.