A Better Life For People With Learning Disabilities

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Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis today launched a consultation to seek views on the priorities for learning disability for the next three years.

'Valuing People Now - From Progress to Transformation' is a cross-government consultation which sets the agenda across a range of issues, including health and well-being, housing, employment, education and community inclusion. It builds on the vision set out in Valuing People (2001) which was the first white paper on learning disability for thirty years - a vision based on the four main principles of rights, independence, choice and inclusion.

The key areas it will focus on are:

* the personalisation agenda - having choice and control through individual budgets, direct payments, person centred planning and advocacy;

* what people do - helping people to be socially included in their local communities, with a particular focus on paid work;

* better health - ensuring that the mainstream NHS provides full and equal access to good quality healthcare and that specialist healthcare services are modernised;

* access to housing - ensuring that people have access to housing that they want and need with a focus on home ownership and real tenancies;

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* making sure that change happens - making learning disability partnership boards more effective and checking that the things we say should happen do actually happen.

Care services Minister, Ivan Lewis said:

"People with learning disabilities have a right to live independently as equal citizens in our society. Valuing People represented a major step forward in policy and has led to many improvements for some people with learning disabilities in some parts of the country. However, our challenge now is to make independent living and equal citizenship a reality for all people with learning disabilities in every part of the country.

Valuing People Now retains the fundamental principles of Valuing People while seeking to secure transformation over the next few years on issues such as housing, employment, access to mainstream NHS Services and maximum control and choice for people with learning disabilities, and where appropriate carers over their support.

I urge people with learning disabilities, their carers and front-line professionals to respond to this consultation over the next 3 months so the final strategy can achieve a major revitalisation of the Valuing People agenda and reflect peoples every day aspirations and experiences."

Dame Jo Williams, Chief Executive of Mencap, said:

"This is a much-welcomed step forward to ensure Valuing People really makes a difference to the lives of people with a learning disability. It is particularly good news as it puts the individual in control of their care.

"Next Steps aims to give real teeth to the original 2001 Valuing People report, which aimed to make the lives of people with a learning disability and their families better. All government departments and local authorities must make sure they really get behind Valuing People Next Steps, if it is to fulfil its potential to genuinely improve lives."

The consultation will run until 11 March 2008. The Department of Health will set out proposals for the next three years, based on the responses that they receive to the consultation, in a document to be published by summer 2008.

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