We know what MPs say but what are services like on their home turf?

Margaret Hodge, children’s minister
Electorate: 57,310
2001 general election: 15,302 (60.9 per cent of
those who voted), 9,534 majority

Hodge has claimed to lay the foundations for the Sure Start
initiative and lauded its progress as “one of the most successful
initiatives of the Labour government”. But the one Sure Start
programme set up in her own constituency fares poorly when compared
with programmes elsewhere.

It was recently found that the reach into the community of Barking
town centre’s Sure Start Abbey programme was “very low”. A
government-appointed evaluation team said confusion and
inconsistency brought about by changes in management of the
programme steering group had hindered its development.

On youth justice, Hodge publicly backs the government’s stance on
issuing antisocial behaviour orders to under 16s. Yet her
constituency is accountable for just two of the 364 orders issued
in Greater London between April 1999 and September 2004 – and only
one of these was for a child.

Stephen Ladyman, community care minister
South Thanet
Electorate: 63,640
2001 general election: 18,002 (45.7 per
cent),1,792 majority

Empowering service users lies at the heart of Ladyman’s vision for
adult social care. But in Kent, where Ladyman’s constituency is,
just 27 adults per 100,000 received direct payments in 2003-4,
compared with a national average of 36 per 100,000. The number of
older people helped to live at home was slightly under the national
average of 84 per 1,000 of the population aged 65 or over.

The issue of eligibility criteria for continuing care has been the
source of much controversy, resulting in Ladyman eventually
announcing the establishment of a national framework for

Decisions on 25 of the 132 complaints about continuing care funding
made to Kent and Medway Strategic Health Authority since the
appeals process began are still outstanding. These include some
that have been referred back to the authority by the health

John Reid, health secretary
Hamilton North and Bellshill (although
now standing for Airdrie and Shotts following 2005 Scottish
boundary changes)
Electorate: 53,539
2001 general election: 18,786 (61.8 per cent),
13,561 majority

Reid has often talked about tackling health inequalities, including
higher rates of smoking, obesity and teenage pregnancy in more
deprived areas.

It is no surprise, then, that the children’s services plan covering
Reid’s constituency for 2002-5, drawn up by NHS Lanarkshire and
North Lanarkshire Council, identified various action plans to cut
the number of teenagers becoming pregnant every year from 650 now.
But no statistics were available as Community Care went to press on
the success of this strategy.

Publishing the adult services green paper last month, Reid
professed his desire to extend the personalisation of services for
people with long-term conditions, including mental health

A recent NHS Quality Improvement Scotland review found that, in
relation to services for people with schizophrenia in Lanarkshire,
the outlook is already good in terms of assessing that individuals’
needs are met to enable them to live in the community. But service
users did not always receive a copy of their care plan and were
given no opportunity to offer feedback on the arrangements.

A review of child and adolescent mental health services in the area
carried out the previous year by the Health and Social Care
Advisory Service identified a need for these services to be
championed and given a higher profile.

Theresa May, shadow secretary of state for
the family
Electorate: 64,456
2001 general election: 19,506 (45 per cent), 3,284

Last month, the Conservatives announced their flexible child care
policy, promising grants for companies or public sector providers
to start up creches for employees. But there is no such creche for
council employees at May’s local council, Windsor and Maidenhead –
but the authority does provide child care vouchers for staff.

At the time of going to press, the council was unable to provide
information on Sure Start places, but has just one nursery for
hard-pressed families, set up in December 2004. It offers up to 50
per cent subsidies for families accessing work or training – but
only 18 of its 84 places are taken.

The Conservatives’ call to abolish the Children and Family Court
Advisory and Support Service and reduce the number of cases that
end up in the courts may prove a headache for the area covering
May’s constituency.
Cafcass said it dealt with 294 cases between 2003 to 2004 for the
Berkshire area, and 285 in the 11 months to February 2005.

Andrew Lansley, shadow secretary of state for
South Cambridgeshire
Electorate: 102,323
2001 general election: 21,387 (48.8 per cent),
8,403 majority

Lansley’s mantra on health adheres to the thread that runs through
current Conservative Party policy: choice.

His own constituency may fare well on choice in some areas – direct
payment provision for Cambridgeshire’s social services in 2003-4
was in line with average figures for across the country – but it is
weaker in others.

Figures from the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)
reveal that, in terms of support for older people living at home,
provision falls below the national average. About 70 over-65s per
1,000 are given the option, compared with a national average of 84
per 1000.

Paul Burstow, Lib Dem health
Sutton and Cheam
Electorate: 62,321
2001 general election: 19,382 (48.8 per cent),
4,304 majority

Burstow branded the government’s system of reviewing complaints on
continuing care funding decisions as “fatally flawed” when it
emerged last September that fewer than one in five people who had
complained were to be compensated.

In his own constituency, the Sutton and Surrey Strategic Health
Authority has 50 complaints outstanding out of 143 received since
the appeals process began. The health ombudsman is dealing with 17
of them.

In Community Care last week, Burstow reiterated the Liberal
Democrats’ support for the direct payments policy (Opinion, page
19, 14 April). But the CSCI raised questions over his local
council’s provision of direct payments in 2003-4. Fewer than 20
adults per 100,000 of the population receive direct payments,
compared with an average of 36 per 100,000 across the

However, the council performed better when it came to helping the
over-65s to live in their own homes, meeting the national average
of about 84 per 1,000.

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