‘Valuing People harmed by hands-off approach’

The former top civil servant for learning disabilities has said the government failed to ensure the success of the Valuing People agenda because of its mistaken “hands-off” approach.

Rob Greig (pictured right), who left his post as national director for learning disabilities earlier this month, said this had hampered progress in improving the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Greig said the government was following parts of the media, with its philosophy of “hands-off” or non-interventionist government, adding that this view had to be challenged.

Greig, now chief executive of social inclusion charity the National Development Team, said that the government had to intervene to improve the lives of a group that society had marginalised: “Just setting a policy is not enough.”

As an example of this lack of intervention, he cited the Care Quality Commission, which will be set up this year, having less than the combined budget of the previous inspectorates – the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission.

“It will be less able to monitor the quality of services,” he said.

In a wide-ranging speech, Greig also said radical legislation was necessary to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. Unlike the government, he gave his backing to Lord Ashley’s Disabled Persons (Independent Living) Bill, which would provide disabled people with a right not to go into care against their will. He also called for the repeal of the National Assistance Act 1948 – the foundation of the adult social care system – saying it meant services were based on outdated ideas.

Also, learning disabled young people should no longer be sent to residential special schools or colleges far from home, Greig said, adding that the practice should follow long-stay hospitals – all but one of which is now closed – into the history books.

He added that Valuing People Now, the refresh of Valuing People white paper, had received strong backing in consultation and suggested it would not be significantly changed when the government reports on the consultation later this year.

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Mithran Samuel



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