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Winterbourne View: more housing and benefit cap exemption ‘critical’

There is a “critical need” to develop housing for people with learning disabilities and exempting them from the upcoming housing benefit cap in order to overturn the “poor or abusive treatment” of them in society, the latest Winterbourne View report has argued.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), also the author behind the initial 2014 Winterbourne View report, added that a learning disabilities commissioner must be appointed to “promote and protect the rights” of vulnerable people.

Claiming the scale of reforms needed is “far more challenging” than expected, Sir Stephen said an extra 10,000 trained staff are needed to support people to live in the community – with at least 1,300 expected to move out of hospital care by 2019.

“I am still shocked by the way we as a society have condoned poor or abusive treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” he added.

The Winterbourne View scandal in 2011 exposed a series of routine physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities at a hospital in South Gloucestershire, including staff repeatedly assaulting and harshly restraining patients.

As a result, the government pledged in 2012 to transform services by strengthening the accountability of director boards and moving potentially inappropriate hospital placements to community-based support by 2013, as reported by PSE’s sister title, National Health Executive.

But publishing the NHS England-commissioned Winterbourne View report in 2014, Sir Stephen claimed the government had failed to keep its promise. He then made a series of recommendations to local government, the NHS, regulators and Whitehall, including adopting a robust commissioning framework to support people with learning disabilities and autism move out of hospitals.

Five years on from the scandal, the ACEVO boss said the system is still failing. His latest report, ‘The Challenge Ahead’, claims there is a “firm argument” for an office of a learning disabilities commissioner, just as a children’s commissioner post was created after the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

“The dimensions of these challenges, and the failure to introduce a charter of rights in law, means that nothing less than a commissioner is required,” Sir Stephen said.

Today’s report comes on the same day as fresh claims by the Royal College of Nursing that the learning disability nursing workforce in England has been slashed by one-third since 2010, as have student nurse training places, despite governmental promises and planned integrated working.

But health minister Alistair Burt MP argued it was “only recently” that NHS England announced its major programme to move people with learning disabilities from hospitals to communities, “a move welcomed by Sir Stephen”.

“This, combined with the increase in specialist staff including nurses, will transform care,” he said. “We are not complacent and will work with the NHS, local government and others to make sure their plan is delivered.”

(Top image c. Tim Ireland, PA Wire)


Joe Halewood   25/02/2016 at 15:20

There is not just a need to exempt ALD services from the LHA maxima cap but all supported living model of care services to mental health, physical and sensory and all other supporte needs such as acquired brain injury. Additionally all supported housing services (hostels, refuges et c) and all forms of sheltered housing from the lowest level right up to extra care / assisted living. The article above references an old (26 Jan 2016) article by National Housing Federation and numbers it put out which relate ONLY to housing assciations. Supported and sheltered by LAs, ALMOs and the 3rd sector are not included in these figures. If, and more likely when, all short term servies close (hostels and refuge) and all extra care sheltered then the cost impact on LA budgets will be in excess of an additional £2 billion per year to arrange alternate provision and could exceed £3 billion per year. The LHA maxima cap is a huge transfer of cost from central to local government and will apply in even the lowest rent areas of the North while London Boroughs may escape given the perversely high LHA rates in the capital. Very much under the radar of most LAs given the complexity of funding streams for supported and sheltered housing and on top of much existin closures, the HB that is cut means no new build as the revenue funding streams become non viable

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