The year ahead in Westminster
It promises to be a busy year ahead in Parliament with the Coalition Government set to embark on a sustained period of legislative activity. Mencap will be keeping a close eye on developments and campaign to ensure the rights and interests of people with a learning disability and their families and carers are properly considered throughout this time.
Of particular interest will be the eagerly anticipated Health Bill which will reorganise the structure of the NHS by giving new commissioning powers to GP Consortia, at the same time abolishing Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs). It is important that whatever changes there may be, we build on the progress made with Mencap’s ‘Getting It Right’ Charter to improve the treatment of people with a learning disability in the NHS.
In February we are also expecting the Government to publish a Green Paper on Special Educational Needs (SEN) which aims to give greater control to parents so they can choose the services and the support their children receive.
The Welfare Reform Bill will also be published in February and will follow on from the measures announced in the White Paper to create a Universal Credit system. We are particularly interested in the government’s proposals on Housing Benefit and the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). In particular we are campaigning against the government’s proposals to remove the mobility component of DLA for people who live in residential care.
We shall also see the Localism Bill – published in December 2010 – make further progress through Parliament which aims to give local people a greater say as to how their communities are run. The White Paper on Public Service Reform will also be published very soon which aims to give the voluntary and community sector more opportunities to become involved in the running of local services.
At the start of a new year, it is an important time for Mencap to continue its campaigning activity and work to influence the Government’s policies in the interests of people with a learning disability and their families and carers. Throughout this time the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Learning Disability – Co-Chaired by Mencap’s President, Lord Rix – will hold regular meetings in Westminster to make MPs and Peers aware of various issues and concerns relevant to the learning disability community.