Independent living – Welsh Government assessment
Changes to the legal and policy framework are welcome and include transport, housing, social care, and an updated action plan on independent living. But a lack of data makes it difficult to assess the impact of these changes in removing barriers to disabled people’s full participation in society. The available evidence shows that disabled people in Wales continue to face a number of barriers to the right to live independently as part of the community on an equal basis with others, such as a shortage of accessible homes. The coronavirus pandemic could make these problems worse.
- Children with special educational needs (SEN) are much more likely to be excluded from school than non-disabled children.
- The number of children with ALN attending special schools in Wales has increased every year since at least 2003, even when the overall number of children with ALN decreased
- Disabled people in Wales are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, although the employment rate for working-age disabled adults has increased from 43.3% in 2015-16 to 49.5% in 2019-20.
- In 2018-19, 80% of social care recipients reported being in control of their lives as much as they can be, with 74% reporting that they are able to do the things that matter to them –this is similar to the levels in 2016-17.
- Outcomes data to review the impact of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is limited and the National Assembly for Wales (now Senedd Cymru) Finance Committee has raised concerns about a lack of data on levels of unmet need for adult social care.
- Despite welcome policy reforms, a severe shortage of accessible homes continues to affect disabled people’s right to independent living.
- Inaccessible transport services continue to create a barrier to disabled people’s full social and economic inclusion in Wales.
- The coronavirus pandemic raised concerns that the pandemic has created additional barriers to some disabled people’s equal access to health and social care, food security, access to justice and education.
- Shortages in the provision of effective Personal Protective Equipment, testing and tracing have led to disabled and older people being left without adequate care and support.
- Changes to mental health tribunals in Wales could make it harder for people detained under the Mental Health Act to challenge their detention and treatment.
- Although the Coronavirus Act 2020 included provisions for easements of social care for children in England, the Welsh Government did not agree to similar provision in Wales.
- Although there were similar provisions for social care easements for adults in Wales, these were never used and the protection of the legal framework for children and adults remained in place in Wales throughout the pandemic.
- Despite the ongoing commitment through the Action Plan on Independent Living, the right to independent living is not currently incorporated into domestic law in Wales.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on independent living.