§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will issue guidance to local authorities wishing to transfer elderly residents' homes to independent trusts while maintaining full eligibility for his Department's benefit entitlements; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
The provision of guidance to local authorities is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health. Awards of benefit in an individual case are a matter for the independent adjudicating authorities. The enhanced levels of income support are generally available only to residents in homes registered under the Registered Homes Act 1984 who satisfy the income, capital and other tests for income support and for whom local authorities have not arranged care.
A local authority considering transferring residential care homes to the independent sector needs to satisfy itself as registering authority that the homes in question are properly registered under the Registered Homes Act 1984; and, as social services authority, it needs to satisfy the adjudication officer that it has not arranged the care of residents with the new proprietors. The authority will also need to satisfy itself that it will still be able to provide care for people for whom it is not otherwise available.