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Government plans to move Disabled people from institutions don’t go far enough

27 July 2022

The Government has published its long-promised action plan to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autistic people living in inpatient care.

It is intended to fulfil a pledge that by March 2024 the number of people living in such facilities will be half that of March 2015.

At the end of May, some 2,010 people were living in specialist inpatient care – a 30% reduction but with a 20% increase in autistic people.

The action plan says that people with a learning disability and autistic people will receive better and more focused community care from birth, alongside more preventative support in the community.

It commits to speeding up discharges for people with a learning disability and autistic people, supported by additional targeted funding of more than £90 million.

Funding will include:

  • £40 million to continue to improve the capacity and capability of crisis support for autistic people and people with a learning disability 
  • £30 million to continue putting keyworkers in place for children and young people with the most complex needs
  • A £21 million Community Discharge Grant to local authorities to support discharge to community settings

DR UK’s Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi said “Progress in moving Disabled people from long-stay institutions into community provision is far too slow. People are having their human rights breeched and are entitled to much more urgent and focused action. Each Disabled person should have a fully funded discharge plan put in place and Local Authorities should be given ring fenced funding to deliver the move to supported living in the community.”

The action plan confirms that reforms to the Mental Health Act will stop people with learning disabilities and autistic people without mental health issues, being covered by the Act.

Minister for Care and Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: "For too long autistic people and people with a learning disability have remained as inpatients in mental health units not necessarily because it was the best place but because of failings in the system and a lack of community facilities to support them.

"I am committed to driving further, faster progress to ensure people with a learning disability and autistic people, of all ages, receive high quality health and social care support in their communities when they need it."

The plan, Building the right support for people with a learning disability and autistic people can be found on the GOV.UK website. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s response to the report is also available on their website.