Still much to do despite white paper

Our campaign is based around the principles of the 2001 Valuing People white paper, which promised new opportunities for people with learning disabilities to “live full and independent lives as part of their local communities”.

It said that people with learning disabilities often had little or no choice or control over key aspects of their lives, notably housing, had limited opportunities to work, and received poor health care, and promised a radical overhaul of services.

Promises included ending the use of long-stay hospitals by April 2004, a new target to increase employment for people with learning disabilities and giving all people with learning disabilities a health action plan.

The government provided specific funding for the white paper’s various initiatives and set up a Learning Disability Taskforce, including service user and carer representatives, to turn its aspirations into reality.

However, as care services minister Ivan Lewis admits, the agenda has “stalled” and needs to be refreshed. For instance, the long-stay hospital closure target was missed, as was a revised target in 2006, while little progress has been reported on employment opportunities.


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