Care leaders: The Chancellor must ensure people with learning disabilities are not forgotten amid new social care spending commitments

Learning Disability Voices, a sector-wide coalition of care providers, cautiously welcomed social care funding commitments announced in the Budget.

The service providers – representing the charity, not for profit and independent sectors – were encouraged by plans to release £2 billion in funding over three years and to publish a Green Paper on the funding challenges facing the sector.

Despite the headline announcements, sector representatives were surprised that the Chancellor’s speech did not reference people with learning disabilities, focusing almost entirely on elderly care and hospital discharges. As the National Audit Office report pointed out last week, a large proportion (39%) of adult social care spend is on adults aged 18 to 64 with a learning disability.

The Chairs of Learning Disability Voices responded, calling for an assurance that people with learning disabilities will not be forgotten when the new funding is distributed.

They also call for the Government to take a more holistic approach to social care going forward, incorporating better monitoring and mitigation of the National Living Wage’s impact on the sector.

Looking ahead, Learning Disability Voices will respond to the Government’s Green Paper seeking to ensure it arrives at a robust, long-term funding solution for the sector.

Commenting, Andrew Cannon, Co-Chair of Learning Disability Voices and Chief Executive of Voyage Care, stated:

“This is a step in the right direction, particularly after an incredibly disappointing Autumn Statement. It is very much a sticking plaster for the funding gap facing our sector, but we cautiously welcome the desperately needed cash injection.

“We are very concerned, however, that the Chancellor neglected to even mention people with learning disabilities in his statement. It is cause for worry in the context of the new funds, as we are not entirely clear about how they will be distributed. Put simply, these new funds must reach our most vulnerable people.”

Commenting, Tim Cooper, Co-Chair of Learning Disability Voices and Chief Executive of United Response, stated:

"We are encouraged that the Government has listened and that there is now a commitment to a long-term review of social care funding. The Learning Disability Voices coalition will seek to ensure that it establishes a funding arrangement that safeguards the sustainability of the vital services relied on by some of the most vulnerable people in society.

"In the meantime, the Government simply must acknowledge the crisis in learning disability services where there is a 'real and present danger'  of providers running into serious financial difficulties because of cost pressures outside their control and underfunding. In particular, the National Living Wage and its application to overnight sleep-in shifts will impose an additional £74 million cost on the sector in 2017/18.  It is clear that the additional funding announced does not address this."