The government today (6 August 2008) announced £96m of funding to improve the healthcare, community support and employment prospects of people with learning disabilities.
The new £96m of revenue funding, ring-fenced for three years from 2008/09 until 2010/11, will pay for costs incurred as a result of people with learning disabilities moving from campuses to housing in the community.
The announcement, by Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis (pictured), comes a week after an independent inquiry, led by Sir Jonathan Michael, cited evidence of a "significant level of avoidable suffering" faced by people with learning disabilities, due to disability legislation and guidance often not being delivered at the frontline of healthcare in England.
The new government funding will include support for health action planning, workforce training and development, advocacy support for more inclusive community-based activities, and help to get people into employment.
This follows on from the £175m announced last year for PCTs to help with the capital costs of closing institutional NHS accommodation and providing more appropriate community arrangements for those with learning disabilities.
Before leaving the NHS campus, each person will be individually assessed and given a "person-centred care plan" to ensure they will continue to receive the correct support in their new way of living.
Ivan Lewis said: "This funding opens the door to a better way of life for hundreds of people with learning disabilities, who will now be able to integrate into communities across the country, while given high-quality support to lead a full life as equal citizens.
"We are providing funding for both PCTs and local authorities to help close inappropriate NHS accommodation and to support people with learning disabilities make the transition to the community a smooth one."
Anne Williams, the new National Director for Learning Disabilities, said: "This is excellent news for people with learning disabilities. It will enable many more people to live in their own homes in local communities, supported to get good healthcare. More choice, employment and volunteering opportunities and social and leisure activities will all come from this new development."
According to the Department of Health, the package means that, by 2010, up to 1,800 people, (692 in 2008/09) will be helped to move out of institutional NHS accommodation and into housing in the community, where they will be supported to live independently and make decisions for themselves.
Related story: People with learning disabilities face "avoidable suffering"