During last summer, we held discussion meetings in London on policy and practice with a number of government agencies – the Department of Health (now the Department of Health and Social Care) together with a representative from the Care Quality Commission, the Department for Education together with Ofsted, and the Department of Work and Pensions. In addition, we took our recommendations to the Local Government Association. For each of these departmental meetings, briefing documents were prepared based on the recommendations of our report, The Autism Dividend, and with input from a number of members of the NAP team, in particular, Dr Yo Dunn. We offered each of the government departments the opportunity to respond in writing to our briefs. The DHSC replied in detail and their response has been added at the end of the DHSC brief. Comments from the DWP have been incorporated into the text of the DWP brief and are marked as such. Unfortunately, the DfE and Ofsted declined to comment on the DfE brief.
Since the summer, there have been some good developments. NICE recommended the inclusion of Autism in the GP Indicators data set and this is currently under consideration by NHS England. The DHSC has revised its governance and accountability model for its Autism Strategy and established a number of Task and Finish Groups, one of which is concerned with measuring, understanding and reporting the needs of autistic people. The DWP has very recently backed down following a court ruling that their 2017 restrictions to the mobility element of Personal Independence Payments “blatantly discriminate” against people with psychological issues and were a breach of their human rights. This will be good news for all those autistic people who find travelling stressful.
We wish to express our gratitude to a number of officials who enabled these meetings – Simon Dowlman, David Nuttall and Michael Swaffield (DHSC); Stuart Edwards and Amanda Wadsworth (DWP); Kathleen Tarrant (DfE); and Clive Barnes (LGA).