Report’s author criticises government over weak response


The author of a report on services for people with “profound intellectual and multiple disabilities” has criticised the coalition government for its weak response to his recommendations.

Professor Jim Mansell said the government had failed to describe how it would address the problems he described in his report, which covers areas including housing, personalisation, self-advocacy and assistive technology.

And he criticised the government for simply repeating steps it was already taking, while saying it was for local social care and health agencies to resolve the other issues.

He said: “Since the report was commissioned on the basis that government recognised that existing arrangements were not doing enough for adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, I find it difficult to believe that the specific attention needed will now be forthcoming.”

Mansell said that new policies introduced by the coalition government – including removing the mobility component of disability living allowance from most people in residential care and closing the Independent Living Fund to new members – “betray lack of understanding of the issues involved” and were “undermining the spread of good practice”.

And he said the government’s suggestion that families could ensure their needs were met through local campaigning was “not credible” as they were “already often fully stretched trying to get the help they need” and “often fear that if they agitate for better services their disabled relative will be punished by lack of services they need”.

Mansell’s Raising Our Sights report was commissioned, and published, by the Labour government, but the coalition government has now published its response.

The PMLD [profound and multiple learning disabilities]Network and the charity Mencap said the government’s response was “extremely disappointing”, and they accused it of “not taking responsibility to ensure the needs of people with PMLD are met”.

Paul Burstow, the care services minister, said the government “fully support” the report and have “taken on board its central message that prejudice, discrimination and low expectations are major obstacles that all people with learning disabilities face”.

He said achieving the “best outcomes” for people who need support “requires a more personalised service and we will ensure that progress continues in this area so that more people benefit”.

But a Department of Health spokeswoman declined to comment on Mansell’s criticisms of the government’s response.

There are about 16,000 people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities in England, who all have great difficulty communicating, limited understanding, and high support needs.

16 February 2011

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