Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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4.1 The impact of austerity

Just seven years after Valuing People was published, the financial crash of 2008 happened. The squeeze on funding for public services that followed made it very difficult for even the most progressive local authorities and services to support people with learning disabilities in the way they wanted.

Activity 7 Service cuts

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes
  1. Watch this next video of Professor De Shutter (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) speaking about the impact of austerity on the lives of people with learning disabilities. Then answer the question that follows.

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Video 10
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What were some of the terms used by Professor De Shutter (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) to describe the situation in the UK in 2016?

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Answer

You may have been surprised, or even shocked to hear some of the words used by Professor De Shutter. He talked about the ‘flagrant and systematic violation’ of people’s rights in Britain, which was ‘very unique’ and ‘unprecedented’. He said it was an ‘extreme situation’.

  1. Now watch the next video about the situation of people with learning disabilities in residential care. Then complete the drag and drop activity that follows.

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Video 11
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Match each situation with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) rights that might be compromised when a person lives in residential care.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Article 19: right to live where and with who you want

  2. Article 22: right to privacy

  3. Article 21: right to say what you want and access information

  4. Article 23: right to a home, family, marriage and relationships

  5. Article 27: right to work

  • a.The person has no say over who supports them

  • b.The person has no say who comes in and out of the front door

  • c.The benefits system in residential care stops people from working

  • d.The person has no say over whether someone can stay over

  • e.The person can be moved out of their house by a care provider or local authority because someone else needs it for cost reasons

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = e
  • 2 = b
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = d
  • 5 = c

Cuts to funding and changes to the benefits system have been pretty devastating for some people with learning disabilities in recent years. As this activity has shown, people’s lives continue to be restricted by systems and policies that they have no control over. In the next section, you will consider the impact of attitudes.

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