Learning difficulties tsar roles created

The creation of the first national ‘tsar’ role for a person with learning difficulties was announced this week.

The paid post will expand on the current responsibilities of the co-chair of the Learning Disability Taskforce, a government advisory body, and is likely to be advertised before Christmas.

In addition, Rob Greig, national director of learning difficulties, is to step down from his directorship of the Valuing People Support Team as part of a Department of Health reshuffle, and become a full-time learning difficulties ‘tsar’, putting him on a par with mental health tsar Louis Appleby.

Under the changes, which will come into force from 1 April next year, Greig will also co-chair the Learning Disability Taskforce with his new counterpart.

Greig said: “The creation of a tsar post for a person with learning difficulties alongside my new role will provide a strong opportunity to push issues further up the government’s agenda and promote the self-advocacy movement.”

He said employment, housing, citizenship and tackling hate crimes would feature highly among his priorities, and that he would press the government for more resources.

Mary Ney, co-chair of the Learning Disability Taskforce, has already stepped down from her role, while her counterpart Michelle Chinnery is to remain in post until the changes take effect.

The management of the Valuing People Support team will be devolved to regional teams within the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP), an umbrella group of seven DH programmes that was launched in April.

A national steer on learning difficulties within CSIP will be provided jointly by Sue Carmichael and Debra Moore, currently Valuing People leads for the South East and Yorkshire and Humber regions respectively.

The details of the budget for the reshuffle are expected to be announced in next year’s spending review. The tsar post for a person with learning difficulties is expected to be initially funded for one day a week, but Greig indicated this could be expanded later.


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