Following the feature on Steve Hermon’s fight to get speech and language therapy for his child (SEN 115). MPs and Peers from over 20 All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) call on the Government to increase funding for speech and language therapy.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, APPG Chairs, Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs argue that increasing funding for speech and language therapy will improve the lives of the millions of people they represent. This includes babies, children, young people and adults. They also argue it will reduce the risk of more public funds being spent at a later date because people’s needs have not been identified and supported early enough.
The APPGs represent people of all ages. They cover a variety of settings – education, health and social care, and justice. They represent people with a range of conditions – from autistic people to those with cerebral palsy, deafness, dementia, disability, Down syndrome, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s to those who have had a stroke. The APPGs cover a number of themes. These include social mobility, assistive technology, domestic violence and abuse, school exclusions and alternative provision, childcare and early education, and childhood trauma.
The APPGs’ letter follows people telling the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) about the impact of the pandemic on their access to speech and language therapy. A survey conducted by the RCSLT earlier this year found:
- 81% of children and young people had less speech and language therapy during the first UK-wide lockdown. 62% did not have any therapy at all.
- 52% of adults had less therapy than before lockdown. 44% had no speech and language therapy at all.
- People living in the most deprived areas of England fared worse. A higher percentage in the most deprived areas had less therapy than in the least deprived areas.
Survey respondents said having less speech and language therapy made their lives worse. It detrimentally affected their mental health, education, jobs, friendships, home and social life. They reported that their families and carers lives were impacted in a negative way. People are also worried about getting therapy in the future.
The letter comes after a coalition of over 80 organisations wrote to the Prime Minister in March calling on the Government to improve access to speech and language therapy. That letter has not yet received a response. It also comes as thousands of people continue to sign a petition on the Parliament website calling on the Government to fund improved support for people with communication and swallowing needs.
Geraint Davies, the MP for Swansea West and Chair of the APPG on Speech and Language Difficulties, said: “Speech and language therapy really does transform lives, but even before the pandemic, too many people couldn’t access the therapy they and their families needed. COVID-19 has exacerbated that.”
“As the Chancellor prepares to deliver his Budget, I’m grateful to so many parliamentary colleagues for joining the call to increase funding for speech and language therapy. It will make the lives of those we represent better. It will also reduce the risk of their lives getting worse – and the risk of even more public money needing to be spent because we haven’t supported people at an earlier stage.”
For more information, contact: email@example.com / 020 7219 7166
The RCSLT’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on access to speech and language therapy is accessible here.
The March 2021 letter to the Prime Minister from the 80 organisations is accessible here.
The petition on the Parliament website is accessible here.
The RCSLT provides the secretariat of the APPG on Speech and Language Difficulties.