§ Mr. Gallie
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has for the regulation of community care services in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
The Government are today publishing a White Paper on Social Services in England and Wales. I propose to take action in parallel in a number of areas.
Social work services in Scotland represent a large and growing part of the Government's support for people requiring support and care. Next year Government supported expenditure by local authorities on social work in Scotland will rise above £1 billion for the first time. It is important that these substantial resources are spent well, and that the services they support are of good quality. I therefore intend to strengthen the regulation of community care services and to ensure that local authorities make the most cost effective use of the considerable new resources which have been made available to them since the implementation of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990.
The Government take very seriously the need to regulate care services given to vulnerable people. To that end, it set up in 1995 a working group to make recommendations on improving the regulatory system. I will be issuing for consultation later this month draft revised guidance on registration procedures for residential 237W care homes, which gives effect to some of the recommendations of the working group. The Government will aim to take forward other recommendations in legislation at the next opportunity. We intend that local authorities' own residential care homes should be subject to the same regulatory regime as at present applies to homes in the independent sector in order that there may be even-handedness between the statutory, private and voluntary sectors. We also intend to review the regulations affecting tribunals which hear appeals against deregistration. The Government accept the need for the effective and economic regulation of domiciliary care provision, and will include the necessary statutory provisions in its intended social services legislation. The Government will also consider the need for regulation of the services made available in supported housing provision.
The Government are announcing today their intention to require health and local authorities in England and Wales to form joint statutory bodies to carry out regulation and arrange for inspection of residential care homes and nursing homes within a single regulatory framework. I share the objective sought by joint regulation and will consider the best means of achieving that aim in Scotland.
Our aim is that residential care should provide the highest standards of care, good value for money, and offer a choice of accommodation to people who need it. I have today issued a direction on information, following consultation, which will aim to make clear to the decision-making committees of local authorities the costs of purchasing care from the local authority, private and voluntary sectors. This will help ensure that the full range of local provision is considered by committees.
The proposals in the English White Paper for the protection and support of children cover similar ground to the main provisions of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, which will come into force on 1 April. My officials will be working closely with local authorities in monitoring the implementation and progress in developing services. The Government are also announcing today a new initiative to ensure that the necessary specialist training is available for social workers practising in complex areas of child care and this will be taken forward on a UK basis.