Phil Hope rejects Tory bid to strengthen autism services

The government has indicated it will reject a  Tory MP’s attempt to strengthen autism services.

Care services minister Phil Hope said he saw “no need” for recourse to the proposals outlined in a private members’ bill  sponsored by Tory MP Cheryl Gillan.

The bill, due to receive its second reading next Friday (27 February), includes duties on councils to record the number of people with autism in their area and a duty on children’s services to co-operate with adult services over the transition of children from age 14. It has been backed by 13 charities, including the National Autistic Society, and won cross-party support among MPs.

Plugging service gaps

Hope told Community Care that, although he supported the bill’s aims, current plans – including the government’s forthcoming autism strategy for adults – would plug the service gaps.

He said the consultation on the strategy, to be published in April, would include a proposal for new statutory guidance relating to autism services “if necessary”. The strategy would also focus on health, social inclusion, choice and control, personalisation and workforce training.

Hope also announced that commissioning guidance on autism services for primary care trusts and local authorities would be published alongside the strategy.

Young people in transition

He confirmed the government was taking forward year-long research on services for young people with autism in transition to adults’ services and the prevalence of autism among adults.

Hope argued that Gillan’s bill would be “unhelpful” as it would “restrict the ability of local areas to be flexible”.

He added: “We want to make it clear to all people with autism and their families that we are very much on their side.”

More information

Full text of Autism bill

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