Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East, Labour)
In October, the Secretary of State told the House that it was outrageous for me to suggest that the money announced in the comprehensive spending review for elderly care would be wiped out by overall cuts to local government. Will he tell me what he disagrees with in the London Councils’ estimate that overall funding, in relation to the personal social services budget, will decrease by £885 million, or including inflation, £1.8 billion?
Eric Pickles (Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government; Brentwood and Ongar, Conservative)
I think that the London Councils’ analysis is overblown, and that it errs a little on the side of hysteria. Let us be clear. What we know is that the local government settlement is £6.5 billion for supporting people, and, so far as care for the elderly is concerned, an extra £2.2 billion will come directly from the NHS.