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Mr. Luff: At this point, it would be right of me to express my gratitude for what the Minister has said so far, which fully meets my expectations of the debate.

Mr. Denham: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

The changes the Government are making are designed to improve the quality of care that disabled people and their carers receive. They should ensure that services are delivered more quickly and are better co-ordinated. The White Paper "Modernising Social Services", published in November 1998, set out our plans to overhaul social services. Younger physically disabled adults and older people will benefit from the national objectives for adult services in the White Paper, which promote the independence of adults assessed as needing social care support, to enable them to live as safe, full and normal a life as possible.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned a letter in which Mrs. Such suggested that what was needed was to

I am sure that he welcomes the commitment in yesterday's Queen's Speech to legislation to enable the development of care trusts, whereby health and social services will be able to pool power and funds in a single delivery organisation. That has, in part, been prompted by previous experience of people finding themselves trapped by poor co-ordination between two parts of what should be an integrated care system.

The Government are increasing the resources available to social services departments by 3.6 per cent. in real terms in the years 2000-01 to 2003-04. In 2001-02, support for local authorities is increasing by 2.6 per cent. in real terms, which compares favourably with the average growth in social services budgets of just 0.1 per cent. during the last Parliament. The personal social services standard spending assessment for Worcestershire in 2001-02 will be £76.625 million, which represents an increase of 5.2 per cent.

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In addition, the promoting independence partnership grant is designed to foster partnership between health and social services in promoting independence. Worcestershire received £2.3 million in partnership grant last year and will receive £1.98 million this year. On 27 November, we announced an additional £100 million next year for the provision of social services, earmarked for the expansion of social care and rehabilitation services. Subject to the approval of Parliament, Worcestershire will receive £2.77 million in promoting independence grants in 2001-02.

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The hon. Gentleman mentioned bed blockers. Fortunately, the overall national trend in the number of delayed discharges, as we call them, has been downward for more than the past three years. In addition, like other parts of the country, Worcestershire received additional funding for the winter.

The motion having been made at Seven o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

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