Introduction to the 2000s

The decade was one of highs and lows. The growth of the Internet meant that global communications were increasingly possible and mobile devices ensured that people could be more connected. It was also the decade that celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II as well as the successful completion of the Human Genome Project. But the burst of the dot.com bubble in 2000 led to a global financial crisis. The terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11 2001 took many lives and led to the war on terror.

In 2001 the Government White Paper ‘Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century’ was published. This was the first White Paper on Learning Disability since Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped in 1971. It set out the government’s vision for people with learning disabilities based on four key principles: rights, independence, choice and inclusion. Partnership Boards were set up in localities to enable people with learning disabilities, carers and providers to influence Local Authority policy. Valuing People also led to extra funding for advocacy and self-advocacy, including the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities as a representative body. Personalisation gained pace during this decade. People with learning disabilities could, through Direct Payments, direct the care and support they received. In 2008 Putting People First committed Local Authorities to enable everyone who receive funding from social care to move to similar self-directed support arrangements, with the promise of exercise of choice and control.

 

2001 was also the year of The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, commonly known as SENDA, which was intended as an addition to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The SENDA 2001 established any educational discrimination as unlawful. In 2003, the green paper ‘Every Child Matters’ was published, addressing the problem of children falling through the cracks between different services, stressing that child protection cannot be separated from policies to improve children’s lives as a whole. It paved the way for The Children Act 2004, which provides the legislative backbone on which the reform of children’s services is based, safeguarding and providing assessment procedures potentially beneficial to children with learning disabilities. In 2005 the Disability Discrimination Act replaced SENDA, and in 2006 The Electoral Administration Act was passed, removing the phrase ‘idiots and lunatics’ from electoral law giving people with a learning disability have equal rights to vote.

This was a memorable decade for MacIntyre, when the celebrations of 40 years of service took place. By the mid-noughties MacIntyre was “providing learning, support and care to over 700 children and adults with a learning disability in over 120 services across the UK” (The Ring, Autumn 2006). These services included registered care homes, supported living schemes, accredited training schemes and lifelong learning provisions as well as two highly specialised residential schools and a further education college.

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