School’s out for summer and Parliament is in recess. MPs have gone back to their constituencies and, Brexit notwithstanding, much of policy is on hold.

But that doesn’t mean that the many and myriad issues that too many disabled people face every day have gone away. Nor does it mean that the work stops; it may be silly season for the tabloids but behind the scenes, we – alongside others in our sector – are still working hard to influence policy and campaigning to make things better for disabled people.

Following up from our #makeworkareality fringe events in the autumn of 2015, where we sought to raise awareness of what needs to change to see more people with learning disabilities in paid jobs, in the run up to recess we have been engaging directly with MPs to highlight the importance of closing not just the overall disability employment gap (which sees 47% of disabled people in work compared to 80% of the population as a whole) but also the lesser known and even larger gap which sees only 6.8% of people with learning disabilities (15% for people with autism) in paid work.

This included supplying written evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee which resulted in us being asked to give oral evidence too. Our evidence session at the DWP is available on the Parliament TV website.

Our work with the DWP

We’ve also been engaging with officials at DWP and DCLG to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring that supported housing remains exempt from the cap on housing benefit that will be applied to the social housing sector. The delay in creating a long-term framework is the biggest problem, both creating a huge amount of uncertainty about existing services and preventing new housing being developed.

This not only prevents disabled people – who are already disproportionally affected by the shortage of housing - from getting the housing they need – but also undermines the delivery of the Transforming Care agenda in enabling people to move out of Assessment and Treatment Units and into the community. Alongside others, we are keen to work with Government to create a system that provides value for money and the flexibility to provide the housing that disabled people need to live as independently as possible in the community.

Our work with the National Living Wage

Elsewhere, we’ve been tackling some of the critical issues facing the social care sector as a whole, of which there is none bigger than the potential crisis created by the National Living Wage. Whilst we absolutely welcome the National living Wage in rewarding our staff for the vital work they do, we in turn as a provider must be properly funded to be able to pay it.

The learning disability sector cares for the most vulnerable people in society who often require 24-hour support from their provider. Over the last five years of cuts to local authorities’ finances, we have managed to adapt to these challenges through savings and efficiencies. But now there is no further scope to cut costs without reducing the quality of the services we provide.

So, to lobby on this critical issue, we have joined with other organisations to create LD Voices, a unique and historic coalition of voluntary and private sector providers working together and representing 20% of national learning disability provision. We know that good social care is preventative and saves money. And so we are asking Government to act now to ensure that the sector receives the funding that it needs to in turn, be able to keep providing the vital and life changing care that the people we support rely on.

Get involved

We’ll continue to engage on all these issues throughout and beyond the summer. In the meantime, if you would like to get involved in campaigning, get in touch with our campaigns team at [email protected].