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The impact of day service cuts on people with a learning disability

New Mencap report finds that 1 in 4 adults with a learning disability are stuck at home due to cuts to day services across England

1 in 4 adults with a learning disability stuck at home due to cuts

Nearly a third of local authorities have closed day services in the last three years, says learning disability charity Mencap

One in four adults with a learning disability now spends less than one hour a day outside of their home due to cuts to day services, according to a new report from Mencap.

The learning disability charity issued a freedom of information request to 151 local authorities in England that provide day services, and conducted a survey of 280 people with a learning disability and their families and 194 professionals who work with people with a learning disability.

The findings, outlined in the report Stuck at home: the impact of day service cuts on people with a learning disability, highlight the heavy impact of cuts and increased charging for services on the lives of disabled people, who have been left feeling isolated, lonely and scared about the future.

The freedom of information requests reveal that in the past three years, almost one in three (32%) local authorities have closed day services, with one in five (20%) of these not offering any form of alternative service.

Over half (57%) of people with a learning disability who are known to social services do not receive any day service provision whatsoever, compared to 48% in 2009/10.

In addition, three in five (60%) local authorities have increased charges for going to day services and for vital services like transport to a service, on average by 70%.

Through its survey of 280 people with a learning disability and their family carers, Mencap found that 41% of respondents do not attend a day service anymore. In total, two-thirds (67%) of people with a learning disability have experienced the closure of a day service, shortened opening hours, or increased charges.

In addition, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) of respondents with a learning disability did not feel that they were adequately consulted about the changes made to their day service, with 64% not having been asked for their views at all, despite the fact that local authorities have a legal duty to consult service users when closing or significantly changing day services.

Families have also been hit hard, with almost one in four (23%) family carers stating that their family is financially worse off due to the changes to day service provision, and a further one in five (19%) fearing that they will be forced to give up work to look after their child or family member. Nearly three quarters of carers (72%) fear that their child will not receive the support they need to live a full and independent life

Mencap also conducted a survey of 194 professionals who work with people with a learning disability about the impact of changes to their day services. 61% believed that cuts to social care budgets have already had a negative impact on the level and quality of services, and 62% feared that cuts may lead to higher risk of neglect or abuse.

Mark Goldring, chief executive at Mencap, says:

 “Our report shows the extent to which cuts are affecting the lives of people with a learning disability and their families. “Our social care system is letting down this country’s most marginalised adults. It is deeply worrying that progress towards greater participation of disabled people in the community and mainstream society risks being undone by a failing system that has long been ignored and is now creaking under the pressure of increased demand and budget cuts. “While we support the modernisation of day centres, we urge local authorities to find other ways of saving money that do not take vital services away from vulnerable people, and we urge the Government to make a strong commitment to addressing the social care funding crisis through its forthcoming White Paper and draft Bill.”

Mencap will be sharing the report with the 152 local authorities that provide day services, the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The report, Stuck at home: the impact of day service cuts on people with a learning disability, can be found here, http://www.mencap.org.uk/dayservicecuts

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