MPs continued to maintain pressure on the Department of Health to meet its commitments under the Autism Act, as the National Autistic Society’s ‘Push for Action’ campaign was raised in Parliament during the Health questions session.
Angela Smith MP asked the Secretary of State for Health when he expected the revised adult autism strategy to be published. Responding on behalf of the Government, Care Minister Norman Lamb said that the review and revised strategy would be published at the end of March 2014.
Ms Smith also asked the Minister if he would consider the NAS’s proposals to introduce an ‘innovation fund’ for local councils to encourage the implementation of new and innovative models of service provision for people with autism. The Minister commended the Push for Action campaign and the work of the NAS. He confirmed that the Department was seriously considering these proposals and that they have ‘real merit.’
Chair of the APPG on Autism, Robert Buckland MP also asked the Minister how he plans to use the review to bring forward programmes to increase autism awareness amongst the general public. The Minister accepted that general awareness of autism is still low but that the strategy review provided an opportunity to ensure that implementation makes a real difference on the ground for people with autism.
The Minister’s comments were encouraging, particularly with regards to our proposals for an innovation fund. We are also glad that the Department of Health recognises that there is still much more work to be done to ensure that the spirit of the Autism Act is maintained in the revised strategy and that people with autism get the support that they need.