National disability charity, United Response, has responded to the publication of The Public Accounts Committee’s report on local support for people with learning disabilities, today.

United Response’s Director of Operations, Sarah Battershall, gave evidence to inform the Committee’s report, on experiences and best practice to support people with complex needs to move out of institutions and into the community. She said:

“We were very pleased to have the opportunity to present evidence to the committee on this crucial issue and welcome many of the recommendations put forward in the report today.

“The urgent need for further plans to be put in place to ensure that money follows the individual as they leave assessment and treatment units and moved into the community, has been recognised, and we welcome this.

“Similarly we are pleased to see that our concerns around proposed changes to the Local Housing Allowance have been highlighted in the report. This is a cross-departmental issue, and one which left unaddressed could see thousands of vulnerable people without affordable and suitable accommodation. We welcome the committee’s recommendation that the Department of Health must formerly act as a champion for people with learning disabilities in seeking to resolve this issue.

“Whilst we support much that is in the report today, we are concerned that the current and immediate funding pressures facing providers of learning disabilities services are not mentioned.

“Unless urgent action is taken, the funding situation poses a huge risk to the future of learning disability provision, and to the delivery of the transforming care agenda. Whilst 2,500 are currently residing in long stay hospitals, there are at least a further 28,000 people with learning disabilities living in the community who are at risk  of a return to institutionalisation.  For these people institutional care may become the only option  should the current funding situation make it impossible for providers to continue to support them in the community. It should also be noted that many of these people are also the ones that will be detrimentally affected by the proposed changes to Local Housing Allowance.

“The Government must take immediate action to ensure that vulnerable people can continue to live their lives safely and with the appropriate care in the community. This must be coupled with a longer term plan on funding and the transforming care agenda, after the election.”