Learning Disability Coalition: Green paper fails younger adults

A learning disability leader has reiterated concerns that the government’s adult care funding green paper does not address current and future shortfalls in funding for disabled adults of working age.

Anthea Cox, director of the Learning Disability Coalition, told a Community Care conference on the green paper that the policy document was skewed towards meeting the needs of older people, despite significant pressures on learning disability budgets.

The coalition has estimated that social care funding on adults with learning disabilities will have to increase by £200m a year from 2011-14 to meet need, with the number of those needing care expected to rise by between 3% and 5% a year.

Cox said that the 15-strong organisation, which includes Mencap and the National Autistic Society, welcomed aspects of the green paper, including the plans for a national system of eligibility and assessment – the bedrock of the government’s proposed national care service. 

Green paper fails to address key points

But she warned that it did not address the issue of people with lower-level needs being excluded from support by current eligibility criteria and that its sections on prevention were focused on keeping older people out of hospital.

Other areas of concern that were not addressed in the green paper included changes to care packages after transitions to adult services, she added. 

Cox said: “We are concerned that the visions [in the green paper] do not address some of the major problems of the current system.

“In particular we are concerned about people who have care needs but currently do not get social care because they do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as those with low-level needs.”

“No new money”

She added: “Our understanding is that there is no new money – those who are currently not receiving any social care support are not included in the provision of the green paper so many of these people will fall right out of the picture.”

Her comments echo those of Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring, who warned that the green paper had neglected working-age adults following its launch.

In her speech yesterday, Cox referred to draft findings of a consultation with learning disabled people, carried out by Mencap.

Mencap survey findings

This showed that nearly 90% of respondents would welcome a national care service, that three-quarters said there had been cuts to social care services in their area and that 80% felt that eligibility criteria were being used to cut people out of social care services.

The conference also heard that the financial modelling for the funding options in the green paper will be published next month. The consultation on the green paper closes on 13 November.

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