Backbench Business - Services for People with Autismbackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 21st March 2019.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle 1:13 pm, 21st March 2019

I certainly do. The challenge is to ensure that care plans are flexible enough to be built on, while also including an element of prescription so that there is a proper guide. What must not happen is plans being effectively reneged on when care and support are still needed. The hon. Gentleman made his point very forcefully. He also said that I was doing a good job reading the speech; I will carry on doing my best.

I was talking about the impact on services, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham puts it,

“from education to adult support, from diagnosis to employment, transition to transport. We know the many ways that an autistic person may turn to the state—and to us—for support, and how vital it is to make sure it is there to meet their needs.

The last national strategy ‘Think Autism’
in 2014 included wide-ranging actions. This was underpinned with revised statutory guidance, setting out clear duties on councils and the NHS to deliver on these actions—but we know that many local areas are not meeting all of their obligations. There are also questions about whether the Act goes far enough. As we reach the 10th anniversary of the Act, now is an appropriate time to ask these questions.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, which I am proud to chair, is spending this year doing just that. We are holding an inquiry into what has worked, what happens now and, most importantly, what needs to change. We are looking very broadly, to reflect the needs of autistic people,” including in health and mental health; children, education and transition; employment; access to justice; adult support; and public understanding.