It might be a new year, but the same problems remain for people with learning disabilities, their families and those who care for them. And they won't be going away any time soon. When I was thinking about this first blog of 2012, I decided to go back and look at what I wrote in my Learning Disability Today editorial at the turn of 2011. Some things haven't changed. I focused on how 2010 had been a tough year, with worries over changing government policy, cuts in funding and the threat of benefit changes. I also said that the planned government white paper on the future financing of adult social care would be crucial. All sounds very familiar. If anything, these worries have increased in 2011 - and probably will do so again in 2012 - and the white paper is even more important. Last year, following the coalition's Vision for Social Care I was quite optimistic about the prospects for the white paper. But now, I'm afraid, pessimism has taken over. The government's lukewarm reaction to the Dilnot report in the summer didn't help. Adult social care has been crying out for reform for many years. My worry is that the government may fix the political problem of older people having to sell their houses to pay for residential care, but other, more fundamental reforms may not be pursued, among them, the proper funding of social care. However, there are cross-party talks planned by ministers for February to tackle this thorniest of problems. Hopefully, these will be more fruitful than the last time they were attempted in 2010, when they collapsed, just before the last election. It is a chance that cannot be missed, but I still have a nagging feeling that economics will be the major driver of change, rather than improved outcomes for service users. Elsewhere, funding cuts are really biting hard. There are weekly stories in local newspapers/websites of day and other similar services being closed and more anecdotal evidence of care packages being cut for service users, especially for those with less critical needs. Sadly, the funding situation is not going to improve in 2012 - or for several years to come - so these stories, and their effects on people with learning disabilities and their families, will continue. But, trying, for at least a moment, to put a positive spin on things, funding cuts could also provide some real opportunities. As I wrote last year, there are many individuals and organisations that make a difference, regardless of funding cuts or government policy (or lack of it). And, as someone once said, necessity can be the mother of invention. Constrained finances could drive innovation, as organisations and learning disability professionals seek to provide personalised services at lower cost. While 2012 is set to be a difficult year for many people within the sector, it is important that good and innovative practice is given the prominence it deserves. Hopefully that will ensure that best practice is spread and that the negative effects of cuts will, at least in part, be mitigated.