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Analysts issue learning-disabilities warning

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Financial pressures on local authority budgets and an alarming shortage of suitable social housing stock are increasingly jeopardising the provision of support for adults with learning disabilities, according to new research.

Two reports from respected healthcare intelligence provider Laing & Buisson show that both cost and supply challenges currently faced by the adult learning disabilities sector are confusing long term funding issues and constraining the availability of suitable accommodation options.

Ongoing uncertainties surrounding the impact of central government policy changes in relation to housing and other benefits and allowances, as well as the impact of local authority spending cuts, are undermining investment from providers and support from the banks, the reports argue.

Meanwhile, providers of specialist care face increasing risks as individuals are encouraged to exercise greater choice in where they wish to live and whom they wish to be supported by.

Laing & Buisson chief executive William Laing said that unless the issues were properly recognised and “holistically addressed”, there was an increasing likelihood that many providers would go out of business.

“ This would result in an even greater crisis and shortage in specialist services provision,” he said.

Beatrice Barleon, campaigns and policy officer with Mencap, said the findings confirmed some of the charity’s “greatest fears”.

“The shortage of social care funding as well as the uncertain future of housing benefit and capital funding has very serious implications for the lives of people with a learning disability,” she said.

“We hope that the Government will take a close look at this and use the opportunity to rethink some of its policies around funding for more specialist accommodation as well as addressing the core funding crisis that surrounds social care.

“One of the aspects that needs an urgent resolution is the issue of ‘exempt accommodation’, the housing safety net for the most vulnerable in our society.

“The government must ensure that this route into housing continues to exist into the future.”

The two reports are Illustrative Cost Models in Learning Disabilities Social Care Provision, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, and Cost and Cost-Effectiveness issues in Learning Disabilities.

Both can be found at www.laingbuisson.co.uk

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