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Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with which Ministerial colleagues in each Department he has discussed the development in other Government Departments of the Government’s autism strategy. (305731)

The adult autism strategy spans not just health and social care but also provides a framework for services across the public sector. The Department has therefore undertaken an extensive programme of activity to ensure this work aligns with the existing work programmes of other Government Departments. Departmental officials have been working closely with colleagues across Government to assess:

the merits of issues and proposals emerging from the consultation and external reference group or if there are more viable alternative means to deliver the same goals;

the cost-effectiveness of options for action, and whether they can be integrated into existing budgets; and

the scale of the offer which each Department can bring forward to improve access to services and transform and improve the life chances of people with Autistic Spectrum Condition.

The strategy will benefit from the same cross-Government coalition which has so successfully supported the delivery of “Valuing People Now”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements his Department has made to involve external stakeholders in the post-consultation development of the Government’s autism strategy. (305732)

From the outset, the development of the autism strategy for adults has been underpinned by the two principles of co-production and inclusivity. The public consultation on the strategy was designed to ensure that people with Autistic Spectrum Condition, their families and carers could identify the barriers to access and their key priorities for change in public services.

The consultation which included regional events, on-line discussion forums and targeted engagement, aimed at hard-to-reach groups, received over 1,000 responses. These responses will set the direction of travel for the autism strategy.

The strategy will continue to benefit from the work of its external reference group comprising service users, family carers and the voluntary sector providers as well as professionals who design, develop and provide services.

There will be a further national consultation on the health and social care guidance, mandated by the legislation, which will accompany the strategy and is scheduled for publication in December 2012. We are equally committed to involving service users, carers and the voluntary sector in the production of the guidance.

The third sector, including user-led organisations, has a critical role to play as ambassadors for the strategy, supporting not just design but also delivery.