Jo Williams: review will not fill learning disabilities cash gap

Next month’s government spending review is unlikely to provide sufficient funding to meet the pressures facing councils in the learning disabilities field, a Local Government Association conference heard today.

Mencap chief executive Jo Williams said she did not expect the CSR, which will set funding limits from 2008-11, to help in meeting the challenges of the rising expectations and numbers of service users, and called for a “proper investment plan”.

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Anne Williams said there were major cost pressures on the £5bn budget for learning disabilities services in England.

She urged councils to become “champions” for delivering changes to services. Citing the findings of a recent Care Services Improvement Partnership report on spending, she said England was divided into “Careland” and “Communityland”.

The former group of councils, concentrated in the south of England, spent most of their learning disabilities funding on residential and nursing care. The latter, concentrated in the North, spent most of their budgets on supported living and home care.

Anne Williams called for councils to move into “Communityland”, and also urged local authorities to champion self-directed care and open up access to universal services for people with learning disabilities.

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