Ten days to (try to) change the law #LBBill #JusticeforLB

Another year and another chance to effect change through encouraging MPs to sponsor the #LBBill in the Private Members Bill Ballot.

The #LBBill is an idea to change the law for disabled people so that they have more control over what happens in their lives.

Last year we were unsuccessful in getting the bill sponsored but the events of the past twelve months have underlined how important, sadly, our proposed bill remains.

We need to promote the #LBBill to all MPs. You can read the latest draft by clicking here or on the tab at the top of the page. As with everything #JusticeforLB it has been developed organically and collaboratively, gathering feedback from far and wide including hundreds of disabled people, family members and allies. You can watch a short film (6 mins) about the #LBBill, where it came from and why it’s important here:

We need to contact as many MPs as possible to make them aware of the #LBBill and ask for their support in the Private Member’s Ballot. You can write to your MP via the WriteToThem website (it’ll even tell you who your MP is if you’re not sure); you could also tweet your MP and ask them to pledge their support to the Bill. If you’re unsure of what to say, you could include any of the following:

Please tell your MP that you support the #JusticeforLB campign and that you’re asking them to support a Private Members Bill drafted by the campaign.

Please also explain that supporters of the campaign have come together to draft a Bill which would promote and protect disabled people’s right to live in the community with choices equal to others and the support they need.

It has become known as ‘LB Bill’ in memory of Connor Sparrowhawk (who was known as LB or Laughing Boy).

Your MP might like to know that the Bill has had feedback from hundreds of disabled people, family members and allies.

The Bill has mass support, as you can see by clicking here or on the supporters tab above.

It builds on existing legislation, including the Care Act 2014.

Sign off encouraging your MP to support this Bill and why not ask them to encourage their colleagues to do so. Also encourage them, if they are eligible for and successful in the Private Members Bill ballot, to sponsor the Bill.

Thank you.

Pledge Poster

What will the #LBBill cost?

One of the key considerations that we have had to consider since proposing and developing the #LBBill has had to be about whether it makes financial sense! As much as quality of life experience for disabled people is our paramount concern, it would have been remiss of us to draft and co-produce a Bill without considering the question of what the Bill would cost. To that end Professor Chris Hatton, has done some number crunching and projections for us:

Obviously, human rights shouldn’t come with a price tag. Equally obviously, MPs thinking about sponsoring the #LBBill as a Private Member’s Bill are going to ask the question about the cost consequences of implementing the #LBBill. This short blogpost cannot provide a definitive answer to this question, but it will try and sketch out some of the main cost issues involved, and suggest that the #LBBill will not result in an explosion in the costs of supports for disabled people.

Two clauses in the #LBBill involve changes to the way that public services work with disabled people to make decisions:

Clause 5. Living arrangements to be subject to approval, and

Clause 10. Duty to involve disabled people and supporters in decisions made about their care

These changes should be cost neutral, as they do not directly change the actual support offered to disabled people. Increases in time spent to gain the approval of disabled people should be balanced by reductions in current levels of pointless monitoring and scrutiny of disabled people and the consequences of services making poor decisions without regard to the person’s wishes. Substantial public money is already spent on these processes (for example, almost £300 million was spent on assessment and care management just for working age adults with learning disabilities by local authorities in 2012/13 click here for more).

Two clauses in the #LBBill specify guidance and consultation arrangements, and reporting requirements:

Clause 6. Duty to report on living arrangements and community support, and

Clause 11. Guidance

These are likely to be cost neutral, as public bodies already have a range of reporting requirements concerning their treatment of disabled people, and the reporting requirements here are likely to replace or become part of existing annual reporting arrangements (for example the Autism Self-Assessment Framework and the Learning Disability Self-Assessment Framework).

A further two clauses in the #LBBill involve amendments to existing legislation:

Clause 7. Amendments to Mental Capacity Act 2005

Clause 8. Removal of people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions from scope of Mental Health Act 1983

Firstly to ensure that the Mental Capacity Act operates in line with its original intentions, and secondly to remove people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions from aspects of the Mental Health Act. These clauses will at worst be cost-neutral, as they may prevent some people being admitted to inappropriate and expensive inpatient services (at an average cost of over £171,000 per person per year) without due process or regard to people’s actual needs both in the short-term and long-term.

The remaining five clauses of the #LBBill are explicitly concerned with services and supports for disabled people:

Together, and in concert with the clauses already mentioned, they aim to ensure that all disabled should be able to live in the community with choices equal to others and the support necessary to ensure their full inclusion and participation in the community (Clause 1. Implementation of Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities).

Furthermore, public bodies cannot use the cost of residential care as a benchmark from which to evaluate people’s requests for non-residential support (Clause 2. Residential care not relevant to decisions in relation to community support for disabled people), and they have a duty to secure the most appropriate living arrangement with the disabled person, with financial considerations secondary to Clause 1 (Clause 4: Duty to secure most appropriate living arrangement).

To underpin these clauses, there is a duty to secure enough community support of the types that disabled people want and need (Clause 3. Duty to secure sufficient supply of community support), including community mental health services (Clause 9. Duty to provide community mental health services to disabled people).

Because the #LBBill would result in disabled people making meaningful decisions about where they are living and how they are to be supported in ways that have not happened to date for the majority of disabled people, it is impossible to construct a cast-iron economic model of the cost implications of the #LBBill.

However, there are good reasons to assume that an explosion in costs will not happen as a result to the #LBBill:

1) There are considerable public resources locked into inappropriate inpatient services for less than 3,000 people with learning disabilities and/or autism (over £500 million every year), with the #LBBill projected to result in a drastic reduction in these services. More is also likely to be spent on residential special schools for disabled children, from which considerable savings could also be made.

2) The #LBBill is likely to result in a considerable reduction in the number of people in more expensive and restrictive residential care homes or nursing homes (for example, over 35,000 adults with learning disabilities are in these services at an annual cost of over £2 billion, at a unit cost of almost £70,000 per year per person).

3) Less restrictive and more desirable alternatives such as tenancies with decent support, or shared lives arrangements, are on average less expensive than residential or nursing care, as are community supports such as home care and support from professionals. The savings made from reduced use of highly restrictive services would allow increased use of effective non-residential supports funded at decent levels to allow people to lead meaningful lives.

4) Sizeable amounts of public money are also spent on community-based services and direct payments (at least £1.7 billion per year for working age adults with learning disabilities, for example), which would also be part of the resources covered by the #LBBill. Under the #LBBill, as disabled people have more of a role in commissioning decisions, it is likely that more creative commissioning decisions will be made, linking services to broader supports available to all such as community leisure facilities and libraries.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the #LBBill is consistent with and would add considerable force to the general direction of NHS England and local authority policy. In particular, the joint NHS England and ADASS ‘Transforming Care’ plans include plans to drastically reduce inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, to correspondingly increase and improve community-based supports, and to develop effective supports for considerable numbers of children and families to reduce crises and support people to lead meaningful lives.

Overall, my view is that the #LBBill will not result in an explosion of costs in supports for disabled people. Well over £6 billion pounds per year is currently being spent on services for adults with learning disabilities, for example, yet existing services are often seen by disabled people as obstructive and unfair.

Getting the #LBBill into law is the most effective way of driving really significant changes in the lives of disabled people that are otherwise at risk, despite the best intentions of the Care Act, NHS England and local authorities.

Day 11: Twelve Days of Christmas #LBBill

Day 11 of the #LBBill Twelve Days of Christmas and we’re up to the final clause, Clause 8, a simple clause which would have a profound impact.

If the #LBBill becomes law, Clause 8 would remove people with learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions from the scope of the Mental Health Act 1983.

This means that these people could only be ‘sectioned’ or otherwise treated under the Act if they also had a diagnosis of a recognised mental illness.

If a person with a learning disability or autism needed to be detained, then this would have to be done under the Mental Capacity Act. Otherwise, like the rest of the population, the only basis for detention would be the criminal law if someone committed a crime.

We know that the Mental Health Act creates some rights for people who fall under its scope and their families, but these rights are not enough to justify detention and compulsory treatment. We think it is wrong that disabled people should be treated under mental health legislation if they don’t have a mental illness.

This is explained further in today’s audio introduction film with easy-read images:

What do you think?

Do you have experience of the Mental Health Act being used in relation to people with learning disabilities or autism spectrum conditions who do not have a mental illness? Would this clause have helped?

Let us know what you think, on the feedback pages of the blog, on facebook, twitter, or by email. Thank you.

Over 800 pledges of support for #LBBill

In the last week there has been a lot of discussion about the principles of the #LBBill. Some related to Stephanie Bincliffe’s inquest, some to the Bubb report, and yet more to the brilliant article that Saba Salman wrote for the Guardian, published online and in print last Wednesday.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 11.36.56

The conversations continue as we speak with an open discussion in Manchester, organised by Eve Holt and PSG Speak Up

As well as the discussions, which are crucial to developing the next draft of the Bill, we are also getting more pledges.

We now have over 800 pledges of support for the #LBBill, 780 are from individuals, 31 from organisations and 1 from a Parliamentary Candidate.

We will be following up with others that we have spoken to recently, including the Minister Norman Lamb, to try and get them to publicly pledge their support. The Minister has done this on a number of occasions, including on BBC Radio Oxford, and when we met, so we’re hoping he’ll pledge.

We have also had some interest from the Labour Party via Andy Sawford, MP which we are actively pursuing.

Please keep pledging and keep sharing the campaign. You can see all those who have pledged their support on the page here.

Thanks again for the support, let’s make #LBBill happen. To pledge takes 60 seconds, click here, complete the form and then confirm when they email you. Thanks.