Agenda item

Response to the independent review of Bristol’s policies and actions for people with learning difficulties and autism


The Executive Director of People introduced the report.


·     A Commission member raised concerns about abuse and asked where the accountability was. Members were advised that the concerns raised, as highlighted in the report and from Members of the commission, were ones the Council wanted to address. The Director of Education and Skills noted that the concerns were serious and offered a follow up conversation about safeguarding.


·     The Commission was advised that the Changing Futures bid had been successful and had attracted over £3.3M over the next three years; it would bring together parts of the system to work more effectively to support people who experienced multiple disadvantage, which included groups with lived experience of rough sleeping and homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, the criminal justice system; and included care leavers.  It was noted that people with autism, learning disabilities and brain injuries were highly represented in those groups.


·     The Commission was advised that it was an ambition that crisis driven episodic responses should be stopped and replaced by a focus on long term relationships and support for people; which would include building capacity in employment-orientated services and support, social interaction, and independent living; that this would help prevent, amongst other experiences, criminal justice involvement and homelessness for vulnerable people.


·     Members were advised that one of the reasons the Council had been unable to utilise drop-in centres and day services was due to infection control policy; it was noted by a Member of the Commission that drop-in centres were no longer funded and not part of the Council’s offer. 


·     It was noted that Sir Stephen Bubb had stated that “interactions with the British Transport Police and the Independent Office of Police Complaints (IOPC) [had] been less than satisfactory” (Bubb, S, 2021, p.3).  The Commission was advised that a meeting with the British Transport Police Chief Executive had been arranged to discuss the report.


·     It was noted that there were systemic problems which had developed over a number of years, and that there would not be a quick resolution; that the action plan would need to be developed via co-production and recognition of people’s lived experiences. 


·     It was acknowledged that there needed to be measured and proper responses rather than expectation of quick fixes; that an action plan should be a considered, developed piece of work; Members also expressed a will that a plan was developed as soon as possible.


·     Judith Brown, Bristol Older People’s Forum Ambassador, commended the use of co-production and provided the Chair with details of ‘Stronger Together A co-production toolkit from Ageing Better’ as an example of good practice.


·     The Executive Director for People advised the Commission of the positive potential of the developing integrated care work within the three Integrated Care Partnerships across Bristol; which would enable community capabilities.


·     The Commission was advised that 10% of health and wellbeing was about clinical services, and that the remaining 90% was about everything else that happened across communities and support networks, which included housing, employment support, and neighbourhood development; that the action plan would therefore be built around what communities needed to enable opportunity and health and wellbeing.


·     The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care brought Members’ attention to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee report titled ‘Treatment of autistic people and individuals with learning disabilities’  (Committees UK Parliament, 2021), published 13 July 2021 (Government response due by 13 September 2021); and that the conclusions were similar, which included the dis-jointed service provision which had let people down over the decades. 


·     The importance of the successful Changing Futures bid was emphasised by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, and that the bid was based on previous work informed by people’s experiences during COVID-19, which included rough sleepers, and how they were supported by local organisations. The Cabinet Member highlighted that there were local organisations that had done a huge amount to support people with learning disabilities, autistic people, and those with mental health needs; and it was the aim of the Council to support and boost that work.


·     There was a discussion about Sir Stephen Bubb’s recommendation to establish an Independent Commissioner for people with learning disabilities and autism, which included how much power they would have; and questions were raised, which included; (i) how independent could a commissioner be if they only looked at Bristol; (ii) should there be an independent commissioner over the Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire footprint;  and (iii) should there be an independent commissioner at national level?;  and it was suggested by a Commission member that a Task Group be considered that would input into the Council’s response to Sir Stephen Bubb’s recommendations.


·     Members commended the Council for commissioning the report; it was noted that autism was a condition that for a long time had not been fully recognised, and the way people were treated across systems, which included the education, health and police, needed to be addressed.



·     That the report be noted.


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