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Volume 573: debated on Tuesday 14 January 2014

The Department of Health is currently leading a review of the 2010 adult autism strategy for England, “fulfilling and rewarding lives”, and we will publish a revised strategy by the end of March.

Given some of the difficulties encountered by local areas in developing and sharing innovative practice in progressing the strategy he has just talked about, what consideration has the Minister given to the National Autistic Society’s proposal for an innovation fund as laid down in its “Push For Action” report?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. The National Autistic Society is doing fantastic work, working closely with the Government. It has put this idea forward and we are considering it seriously; it has real merit. We shall announce our decisions when we announce the results of the consultation in March.

What plans does my hon. Friend have to use the review as an opportunity to bring forward programmes that will increase autism awareness among the general public?

My hon. Friend raises an incredibly important point. Awareness is still far too low. We are now in a position where the legislation is in a good place and we have a good strategy, now being reviewed. There remains, however, an awful lot of work to do on implementation on the ground and on making a real difference to the lives of people with autism.