The government has published updated statutory guidance for local authorities and the NHS on what they have to do to meet the needs of adults with autism in their area.
This guidance updates the original issued under the Autism Act 2009 and the subsequent adult autism strategy. It accounts for progress and updates to the strategy made since 2010, and recent legislation like the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014.
The guidance sets out requirements for local authorities and NHS organisations. It reminds them to work together and with partners, for example, in the criminal justice system, or helping people with autism into employment. It provides clarity about what they have to do to meet the needs of adults with autism, including preventative support and safeguarding.
It demonstrates the government’s commitment to people with autism, their families and carers, and explains what support they should expect from local authorities and NHS organisations.
In the foreword to the revised guidance, Care Services Minister, Norman Lamb, said: “Local authorities and the NHS have made a lot of progress in the ways that adults with autism are supported. The challenge is now to build on this progress, ensuring that this guidance is followed to make sure that we improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with autism and their families.”
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS), welcomed the updated guidance, saying it “has the potential to transform support and services for adults with autism.”
Lever added that it is now up to local councils and the NHS to make sure they fully implement the guidance. “Many people with autism need help to do things that others take for granted such as cook a meal or manage money, yet NAS research shows that 7 in 10 don’t get the support they need from social services. Meanwhile, health and care professionals told us they need more information about the types of service and support they have to provide.
“We had real concerns about the weak wording used in an earlier draft of this guidance, but following our campaigning, this has been strengthened. This updated guidance provides local authorities and NHS bodies with much needed clarity about what they have to do to meet the needs of adults with autism, as well as the training that health and social care professionals need to make this happen. It also includes new information to help them meet their responsibilities around employment and criminal justice, where we know people with autism often face great difficulties.
“Many areas in England have been working to improve their services for adults with autism but progress remains patchy. Local politicians and commissioners must step up to their responsibilities and implement this guidance fully, ending the postcode lottery that leaves too many adults without the support they need.”