Dimensions, a support provider for adults with autism, has hit out at the guidance for implementing the Autism Strategy, saying that it is not clear that it is mandatory for local authorities.

Lisa Hopkins, director of specialist development at Dimensions, said: “We welcome the government’s guidance on implementing the national Autism Strategy, which we see as vital in

ensuring that the needs of the one in 100 people experiencing autism in the UK are met, along with those of their families. “However, we do have major concerns about the level of fundamental statutory requirements. It isn’t clear that the guidance is mandatory, which means that some local authorities may not follow the guidance to the letter. For progress to continue and for the momentum built over recent years to be maintained, statutory requirements are absolutely essential.”

Hopkins added that while they understand the need to do more with less in the current economic climate, they are concerned that proactive and preventative support, normally provided at a local level, will suffer as a result of cuts to grants traditionally made by local authorities to small support groups and charities. “It is deeply worrying to think that people who attend groups or have just a couple of hours of preventative support a week may no longer receive the help they need. “Having said that, good work is being done and the Autism Strategy has raised significant awareness of autism among the general public as well as important frontline services including GPs, Jobcentre Plus and employers. This is an extremely positive step and we hope this continues. “We believe that the most effective solutions are reached by working together in a creative and flexible way. The guidance encourages innovation and working in partnership and we will continue our long-standing commitment to engaging with other providers, with commissioners and a range of wider services to find innovative solutions that help people with autism, and their families, live the lives they want.”