§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his policy towards the recommendations of the "Disability Manifesto: An Agenda for the 1990s", a copy of which has been sent to him, which relate to his Department; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
[holding answer 3 July 1991]: In their responses to similar questions from the right hon. Gentleman, my right hon. and hon. Friends have set out the Government's key policies and programmes in relation to the groups whose needs are referred to in the disability manifesto. Most of these policies and programmes, including in particular the improvements to social security arrangements and employment opportunities, will benefit equally people with disabilities in Wales.
We have a complementary programme to meet the distinctive needs and circumstances of Wales, the aim of which is to enable people with disabilities to play the fullest possible part in the life of their communities.
We have placed particular emphasis on the development of services for people with physical or sensory disabilities in our guidance on the development of social care plans. In Wales these are being prepared jointly, under the leadership of social service authorities, by local health authorities and other agencies, working in close consultation with representatives of the users and carers. The first social care plans will be published in April 1992 and will be available to the public so they can see what services are available, how to gain access to them, and what proposals are being made for their development.
These developments in social care planning build on existing distinctive policies and initiatives in Wales which will continue. These include the all-Wales mental handicap and mental illness strategies under which we are providing £39 million in 1991–92 to promote new patterns of more local and accessible services. We are also continuing our initiative on the elderly under which we are providing £2.38 million in 1991–92 to promote innovation in service delivery which enables people to remain in comfort and dignity in their own homes and communities. Further to encourage the development of more flexible forms of community care for elderly people and those with physical or sensory disabilities, we have introduced in 1991–92 a new grant scheme. Under this almost £1.6 million is being made available, much of it for services provided by voluntary bodies.
On the housing front, local authorities are being encouraged, through their involvement in social care planning, to assess the current and future housing needs of disabled people within their areas. In most cases, it is expected that housing needs will be met by making repairs and adaptations to individuals' existing homes. The recent changes to the disabled facilities grants will ensure that the maximum assistance, up to the total cost of adaptations, will go to those in greatest need. In addition, Housing for Wales has a policy of devoting 10 per cent. of its programme to supported schemes for people with special needs. In the current year it is expected that this will lead to the provision of in excess of 330 new homes, many of which will be for people with learning or physical disabilities.
The Welsh Office is sponsoring once again this year the access award scheme, run by the Wales Council for the 450W Disabled, to encourage good building design with the aim of ensuring that buildings are accessible to people with disabilities.