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[Mr. Bill Olner in the Chair] — Wardens (Sheltered Housing)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 20th October 2009.

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Photo of Geoffrey Cox Geoffrey Cox Conservative, Torridge and West Devon 9:30 am, 20th October 2009

I would agree with the hon. Gentleman on the general principle, although it is difficult to know about the individual circumstances.

Although this is sometimes difficult in the House, I want to avoid the tit-for-tat mudslinging that the debate could descend into. I want to invite hon. Members to embark on a real review and analysis of the changes taking place throughout the country. The Government seem not to have evaluated those changes or even always to have a coherent picture of what is happening, and we need to consider whether they should be getting a grip on the process and offering some clear leadership. As I said, I do not suggest that any particular local authority is uniquely bad or uniquely good, but the Government have a role in the process. They should offer leadership and set out clear guidelines and good practice. If changes are to be implemented, the Government should take the initiative in setting out how they should be implemented in general terms, leaving it to the Supporting People administering authorities to devise the specifics and take the decisions that best suit them.

The Help the Aged report predicts that although about 5 per cent. of provision is floating support, the figure will rise to nearer 40 per cent. in just two or three years. A fundamental, albeit silent and invisible, change is taking place across the country in the provision offered to tens of thousands of elderly people.

I was speaking of the value of wardens. In many cases, wardens are the life support for very frail, vulnerable and elderly people. Often, such people are newly widowed. Sometimes, they have no experience of carrying out small housing maintenance tasks or looking after the plumbing, the kitchen or the bathroom. A supportive environment with a single point of contact-the warden-on hand to help therefore provides intensely valuable care and support.