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Disability Aids: Communication

Volume 468: debated on Monday 3 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the number of people who require alternative and augmentative communication equipment; and if he will make a statement; (168776)

(2) what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities on the provision of alternative and augmentative communication equipment for disabled people;

(3) what assessment he has made of the potential demand for alternative and augmentative communication aids among people aged (a) under 24, (b) between 24 and 65 and (c) over 65 years old; and if he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.

The Department has not made any such estimates or assessments and has not issued guidance.

It is the responsibility of local health and social care organisations to prioritise and allocate funding for communication aids based on their assessment of the needs of their local populations. To support this process the Government recently announced, through the Comprehensive Spending Review that local authority funding will increase by £2.6 billion by 2010-11.

Recommendation 5.6 of the Prime Ministers’ Strategy Unit report “Improving the Life Chances of Disabled people”, focuses on the provision of community equipment, communication aids and wheelchairs for children. As part of the process of addressing this recommendation the Department launched the Transforming Community Equipment and Wheelchair Services programme in June 2006.

In addition, the department, is working closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to support the Bercow Review. The Bercow Review is currently reviewing services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs with the aim of producing a report in the summer of 2008.