One in 4 adults with a learning disability now spends less than an hour outside of their home per day due to cuts to day services and increases in charges, a report has found.
The report, 'Stuck at home: the impact of day service cuts on people with a learning disability', by learning disability charity Mencap, found that more than half (57%) of those known to social services do not receive any day service provision - up from 48% in 2009/10. In addition, 1 in 3 (32%) local authorities have closed day services in the past 3 years, with 20% of these not offering any form of alternative service.
For the report, Mencap 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. Mencap also found that charges for remaining day services have increased sharply: 60% of local authorities have increased charges for attending day services and for such things as transport to a service, on average by 70%. In all, two-thirds (67%) of people with a learning disability have experienced the closure of a day service, shortened opening hours, or increased charges in the past 3 years. Now, 41% of respondents do not attend a day services any more. 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 local authorities having a legal duty to consult service users when closing or significantly changing day services.
Mencap's report also found that families are being hit hard. Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) family carers said their family is worse off financially due to changes to day service provision, with a further 19% fearing that they will be forced to give up work to look after their child or family member. This is affecting family carers' optimism, with nearly three quarters (72%) fearing that their child will not receive the support they need to live a full and independent life.
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, said: "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."
'Stuck at home: the impact of day service cuts on people with a learning disability', can be viewed at http://www.mencap.org.uk/dayservicecuts