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Many people with learning disabilities face isolation and an uncertain future because local authorities are being forced to make further cuts to social care, says a new report by the Learning Disability Coalition.

Warning that many of those with learning disabilities and their families will struggle to maintain even a basic standard of living, the Report’s authors call on the Government to urgently reform the social care system and invest more money to end “the care crisis”.

The Coaltion, made up of 15 leading disability and SEN charities, carried out surveys of local authorities, people with learning disabilities and service providers at the start of 2012.

The majority of councils reported that they are facing difficulties in funding services for those with learning disabilities, with 77 per cent saying that they are either making cuts to services or efficiency savings. In addition, 13 per cent of authorities had tightened their eligibility criteria, while an additional seven per cent were considering this option for next year.

Over the last year, 17 per cent of people with learning disabilities say that the number of hours of support they receive has been reduced, while 13 per cent have received less money to spend on their support. Roughly 2 per cent of respondents had lost their support entirely due to changes in eligibility criteria introduced by the local authority.

“Nearly half of people with a learning disability have either had their services cut or charges increased”, says Anthea Sully, Director of the Learning Disability Coalition. “This reveals the myth that restrictions on local authority budgets can be contained within efficiency savings. Ongoing cuts are being made to services, causing very real difficulties for people.”  

The report says that its three surveys reveal “a system in crisis and in desperate need of reform”. This conclusion is borne out by responses from service provider organisations, with 84 per cent saying that reform is vital to change social care and 62 per cent saying that more money is needed to implement reform.

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