§ 10. Mr. Foster
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many local authorities now charge the long term sick and disabled for home helps supplied under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.
§ Mr. Rossi
Eighty-seven local authorities are known to have charged at least some of their clients for home helps during the financial year 1980–81. No information is held centrally about the numbers of long-term sick and disabled people who were charged for home helps nor about the particular statutory provision under which home helps were provided.
§ Mr. Foster
Is that not an appalling tax on the most needy and poorest members in our community? Did not the Government specifically ask local authorities not to charge when they stopped the Supplementary Benefits Commission from aiding those people in 1980? Were they not warned about this by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) at the time?
§ Mr. Rossi
Under legislation passed by the House, these are matters for determination by the local authorities. Nevertheless, the Government have made it clear time and again that in effecting economies they do not wish to see the local authorities disadvantaging the most vulnerable in our society.
§ Mr. McCrindle
While no one particularly enjoys charging the disabled for home helps, is it not true that in present economic circumstances an alternative might have been to reduce the total number of home helps? Is it not arguable that that would have been of even greater disadvantage to the people to whom the questioner refers?
§ Mr. Foulkes
Is it not the case that in successive questions on telephones and home helps we have seen that the cuts undertaken by the local authorities at the direction of the Government are harming the most vulnerable in our society? When will the Government do something about that?