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Learning Disability Services

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 20 March 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What strategies they have in place to improve services for people with learning disabilities. [HL1293]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health
(Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

We are today publishing Valuing People: A New Strategy For Learning Disability for the 21st Century, which sets out cross-government proposals for improving the life chances of people with learning disabilities. This is the first White Paper on learning disability for 30 years and sets out an ambitious and challenging programme of action for improving services for a particularly vulnerable and socially excluded group in our society. Copies have been placed in the Library.

civil rights, independence, choice, and inclusion. Valuing People takes a life-long approach, beginning with an integrated approach to services for disabled children and their families and then providing new opportunities for a full and purposeful adult life. It has cross-government backing and its proposals are intended to result in improvements in education, social services, health, employment, housing, and support for people with learning disabilities and their families and carers.We are establishing a new Learning Disability Development Fund of up to £50 million a year to support the proposals for adults in the White Paper. Up to £30 million a year of this will be revenue funding and £20 million capital. The fund will be introduced from April 2002 and will be targeted on the priorities set out in the White Paper. We are also setting up an Implementation Support Fund of £2.3 million a year for three years from April 2001 to provide central support for key aspects of the White Paper. Priorities for the Implementation Fund, which includes £300,000 a year from the Home Office Active Community budget, includes developing independent advocacy services and establishing a National Learning Disability Information Centre and Helpline in partnership with Mencap.We will be setting up a Learning Disability Task Force to take forward the implementation of the White Paper and an Implementation Support Team to promote good practice and share practical experience.We are also publishing an accessible version of the White Paper;

Nothing About Us Without Us, a report from the Learning Disability Service Users Advisory Group: Learning Difficulties and Ethnicity, a report commissioned from the Centre for Research in Primary Care, University of Leeds; and Family Matters, Counting Families In, a report on the particular needs of family carers. Copies will be placed in the Library.

We should like to pay particular tribute to the people with learning disabilities who helped us develop Valuing People. This is the first occasion on which people with learning disabilities have taken part in developing government policy; their contribution has been invaluable and has helped us understand the problems they and their families face every day.