IN THE MAINSTREAM OF LIFE?
People with Learning Disabilities and the National Policy Agenda
John O’Brien & David Towell
On the 9th February 2005, a group of people with both local and national leadership roles got together at the King’s Fund to look over the horizon to identify positive opportunities for people with learning disabilities in the current national policy agenda, attending especially to the major policy themes which might be expected to be influential in the next Parliament and possibly beyond. This meeting was sponsored by United Response.
The group included Gordon Boxall, Debbie Brenner, David Brindle*, Simon Duffy*, Rob Greig*, Bob Grove*, Frances Hasler*, Nigel King*, Jim Mansell*, Brian McGinnis, John O’Brien, Martin Routledge, Philippa Russell*, Bob Sang*, Des Sowerby, Steve Strong, Bob Tindall and David Towell.
Those marked with an asterisk made brief presentations from their personal perspectives and everyone discussed the implications for achieving positive change. David Towell both convened the group and facilitated the discussions; John O’Brien made the record which follows this introduction as his reflection on the pattern of ideas which emerged. Not everyone present would necessarily notice the same pattern or agree with all the points. In a single day we necessarily gave more attention to some major policy areas, for example housing and employment, than others, for example health. Moreover at the level of initiatives we were looking at a rapidly moving target. We were able to look carefully at the important recent report from the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People but not the related Adult Social Care Green Paper which was published as we started to distribute this record. Similarly in the few weeks since our meeting, Government has published a plan to replace Incapacity Benefit and announced the 2008 merger of the CSCI and the Health Commission. In this changing environment it is important to identify themes that offer continuing opportunities for positive engagement and that is what this overview attempts to do.