Many more adults with a learning disability may continue living with their parents long into their adult lives, rather than being supported to live independently, according to new research published today by learning disability charity Mencap.
The interim findings from a report into the provision of housing for people with a learning disability found that while demand for services is rising, local authorities are increasingly struggling to meet this need.
The study, which included Freedom of Information requests to 174 local authorities in England and Wales and surveys or interviews with 39 of them, shows that 89% of local authorities agree there has been an increase in the number of people with a learning disability requiring housing support in the last three years.
While 82% of the local authorities surveyed agree there is a shortage of housing for adults with learning disabilities, 94% of local authorities surveyed agree with the view that more needs to be done to meet the housing needs of adults with learning disabilities.
The research comes as the Government’s flagship welfare reform bill, which outlines changes to housing benefit and social housing, makes its way through the House of Lords. All of the local authorities surveyed for the research agree that the biggest challenge at the moment is financial, including the changes imposed by the bill, leading to greater pressures on their housing services.
According to the report, the most common housing arrangements for adults with a learning disability currently are living with family and friends, in registered care homes and in supported accommodation. The research also shows that there will be a rising demand to provide additional accommodation in England and Wales. Based on current accommodation trends and population growth, it is estimated that there will need to be 19,860 new registered care places and at least 14,222 extra supported accommodation places in England and Wales over the next 15 years.
Dan Scorer, Mencap national campaigns manager, said: “People with a learning disability have the right to lead their lives like anyone else. This must include being able to live as independently as possible, close to friends and family and a support network. However, as this research shows the proposed Government changes to housing benefit and supported housing are putting additional pressure on the ability of local authorities to find effective solutions to the housing needs of people with a learning disability as well as leaving people uncertain about their future. It is essential that they do not lose out in these reforms.”
The research, which was conducted by Cordis Bright Consulting, also included interviews with parents and carers of adults with a learning disability. Those surveyed said they would like to see improvements in their relatives housing arrangements as well as in the quality of housing support they receive.
The study also suggests that local authorities see supported living arrangements as the most adequate form of accommodation for people with a learning disability with only 6.7% of local authorities surveyed saying they had concerns about that particular type of housing.
Dan Scorer continued: “We know that the vast majority of people with a learning disability want to have the opportunity to live more independently but without urgent action from central government and local authorities it is doubtful that this aspiration will be realised, and more people with a learning disability may end up living with their parents into old age, who could live independently”.
Further findings will be issued next year.