Mencap’s housing report reveals barriers to independent living
Tuesday 04 December 2012
Mencap warns that the housing crisis will turn back the clock for people with a learning disability
Councils are struggling to support people with a learning disability to live independently, according to Mencap’s new report.
The ‘Housing for people with a learning disability’ report warns that local authorities are moving backwards from a long-established national policy to support people within their communities. It shows that aspirations towards providing independent living options for people with a learning disability are at risk of being derailed by government cuts and reforms to the welfare system.
Mencap conducted a freedom of information request of all local authorities in England and Wales and a survey of nearly 500 parent carers of people with a learning disability.
The results reveal the following findings:
- 8 in 10 councils recognise that there is a housing shortage for adults with a learning disability in their areas
- nearly 7 in 10 councils say that the housing shortage has worsened in the last 12 months
- just 1 in 3 people with a learning disability live independently in either supported accommodation, as a tenant or as a home owner
- nearly 1 in 4 people with a learning disability live in registered care homes.
The research highlights that around 22,000 people with a learning disability live out-of-area – an issue that Mencap is particularly critical of, given the recent scandal at the Winterbourne View assessment and treatment centre.
The research highlights that 7 in 10 people with a learning disability want to live more independently. However pressures on council budgets are preventing many from doing so.
In the past year, a number of councils have taken the decision to only support people with a learning disability to live independently if the cost to support them is less than moving them into care. Mencap is concerned that councils are increasingly sending people into care because it is a cheaper option, rather than because it is the best decision for the individual.
“Less than half a century ago, people with a learning disability were locked away and kept a secret from the rest of society,” said Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive. “Councils must not allow short term financial pressures to turn back the clock for people with a learning disability.”
Mencap’s housing arm, Golden Lane Housing, has been given a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to develop a new social investment bond, which will raise up to £30 million to invest in permanent homes for people with a learning disability. Golden Lane Housing will launch the bond in February 2013.
The charity has also noted increasing concern about housing issues from people with a learning disability and their carers. The number of calls about housing to Mencap Direct, Mencap’s helpline, has doubled in the past year. The housing advice service, the Association of Supported Living, has also reported a substantial increase in calls, with call numbers rising from 720 in 2009–2010, to 1863 in 2011–2012.
Read the report, ‘Housing for people with a learning disability’