The 2010s began in the wake of the global financial crisis, which had reached its peak in 2008. In Britain, the decade was marked by the first hung parliament since 1974, and in 2010 the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats formed a Coalition Government. 2012 saw the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the Summer Olympics held in London. In the 2014 Independence Referendum Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom, with 55.3% of votes against independence. In the general election of 2015 the Conservative Party, led by David Cameron was elected with a small majority, and the Scottish National Party became the third largest party in the House of Commons, having won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.
The Coalition Government made no new pronouncements on learning disability policy. Valuing People Now disappeared after its 3 year life, and there was no replacement. Tacitly, the policy appears to have been to close down or shrink specialist services, like Day Centres, in favour of people joining the mainstream. Austerity hit Local Authorities, meaning a squeeze on budgets, which affected learning disability services, though in ways which are, in 2015, difficult to record with any accuracy. Similarly, changes to welfare benefits were likely to affect people with learning disabilities and their families, with Disability Living Allowance (DLA) disappearing in favour of Personal Independence Payments (PIP). Again, it is hard to state with any accuracy what difference this has made, or will make. The 2014 Care Act renewed with even greater force the commitment to personalisation, and the shift to Direct Payments / Individual Budgets, controlled by the disabled person, or their representative.
Probably the most significant event of the period was the revelation of serious and systematic abuse at Winterbourne View, a private ‘hospital’ where people with learning disabilities were sent by Local Authorities for ‘Assessment and Treatment’. The perpetrators were jailed and the Government committed to bring the 3000 or so people in such centres back to their local areas. However, a National Audit Office Report published in 2015 found there was little progress in meeting this commitment. Indeed there were more people in such settings.
There was considerable interest in health issues for people with learning disabilities. In response to the Michael’s Report ‘Healthcare for All’ into NHS provision for people with learning disabilities (2008), two actions were taken by Government. It set up the ‘Improving Health and Lives Learning Disabilities Observatory’ aimed at monitoring the health of people with a learning disability and the care they receive through the NHS. The Learning Disabilities Observatory became part of Public Health England in 2013. It also commissioned a Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities. The Confidential Inquiry once more found that the quality and effectiveness of health care given to people with a learning disability remains deficient, and life expectancy is strikingly lower than the general population.
For MacIntyre, this decade brought more recognition in the form of accolades and awards. In the annual Skills for Care Accolades 2010 MacIntyre was awarded the accolade for Innovation in Training, as well as the prestigious “Winner of Winners”. In 2012 MacIntyre project No Limits, which provides education and support for young people with learning disabilities and autism, won the Disability category for the 2012 Charity Awards. MacIntyre’s Great Interactions training won a ‘Skills for Care Innovation Award’ in 2014.
2016 marks half a century of education and care provision for people with learning disabilities by MacIntyre ; 50 years in which a radical vision was translated into pioneering initiatives, services, methods, and approaches. In the midst of the celebrations, MacIntyre sustains its original ethos and continues to pursue its visionary traditions.