Responding to the publication of Stephen Bubb’s report today entitled Time for Change: The Challenge Ahead, chief executive of United Response Tim Cooper said:

“Five years on from the shocking revelations at Winterbourne View care home, far too many people with learning disabilities and/autism continue to live in inappropriate care settings, which are failing to meet their needs.

“We welcomed the commitment made by the Government and NHS England back in October to reduce the number of inpatient beds for people with complex needs by 50% by 2019, but without a similar commitment in place to increase community provision, it was unclear how this would be achieved.

“We are pleased to see that Sir Stephen Bubb is seeking to address this point in the recommendations that he has published today, and calls on the Government to legally recognise the rights of people with learning disabilities to access community provision, through the establishment of an Office of Learning Disabilities Commissioner.

“As an organisation with over 40 years' experience of providing community services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, we believe that increasing the provision of community-based support and treatment services, as well as suitable housing options, is vital if people are to have somewhere to move onto when they leave long-stay hospitals and ATUs, and also as an alternative to people entering hospitals in the first place.

“We therefore support the recommendation made today for a well-resourced Social Property Fund to be established to facilitate transition out of inpatient care and create additional capacity in community settings. Creating specialist community services for people with complex needs can be more costly in the short-term, and require substantial initial front-end investment for the transition period. However, over time such services not only dramatically improve the quality of people’s lives but often deliver savings, and so it is vital that Government takes a long-term view. Change will only be possible if up-front investment is available in the first place.

“Such community provision will also need to be staffed. In his report, Bubb has highlighted that an 8% increase in the learning disability workforce is needed to facilitate this move from inpatient to settings in the community. We support this point and call on the Government to recognise the key role that highly-skilled social care staff play in delivering high-quality community provision.

“In looking to increase this vital workforce, however, the funding pressures currently facing the social care sector, particularly with regards to the introduction of the National Living Wage, must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Maintaining the current level of learning disability provision will create a funding shortfall of £926m in the sector by 2020 and meeting the demand for additional provisional will require an extra £1.166bn. The introduction of the National Living Wage means that learning disability providers are facing additional wage costs of 7.78% in 2016/17 and over 4% per year after that. These are costs that are simply not sustainable.

“People with learning disabilities deserve to access the best care possible, which they and their families have chosen and which is close to the people who know them and care about them. We would urge the Government to take into consideration the recommendations made in the report today, and to ensure outcomes are met and funding is made available to meet the commitment they made to get care right for people with learning disabilities, once and for all.”

Ends

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