We are a group of parents and carers of adults with autism in Haringey (including some with learning disabilities, mental health problems, epilepsy and other complex needs). Some of us have professional experience of health and social care; some are involved in voluntary organisations active in this field; all of us have personal experience of the difficulties of securing appropriate care and support for people with autism in Haringey. We have close links with Haringey Autism, the local branch of the National Autistic Society, with Haringey People First, which represents people with learning disabilities in the borough, and the Haringey Carers Forum.
In November 2013 we met with Haringey Council leader Claire Kober and representatives of the Haringey Clinical Commissioning Group because of concerns about threatened cuts to care packages that were aiming to drive down costs and risked putting painstakingly established care arrangements in jeopardy. We received some reassurances from Council and CCG leaders on these matters and agreed to continue to meet with a view to establishing a local ‘autism partnership board’ to improve provisions for people with autism in the borough. In the course of 2014, we appeared to be making some progress towards this goal.
In November, council officials cancelled a proposed meeting of the group at short notice, without making arrangements for another. Then, in the first week of December, some of our members discovered Haringey’s budget plans – and the drastic cuts they entailed. Neither the proposed cuts, nor the principle of ‘reablement’ which suddenly emerged as the central organising theme of the rationalisation of social care service, were raised at any of the autism working group meetings (or at meetings of the long-established Haringey Learning Disabilities Board, which some of our members also attend).
Both the substance of Haringey’s plans and the manner in which they have been presented (and the derisory character of the consultation process) reveal that the spirit of partnership proclaimed by the Council leader has been sadly lacking in its treatment of the local autism community. In all these circumstances, the autism action group has stepped back from its involvement with the Council to pursue this campaign against cuts (SASH) which threaten to have devastating effects on individuals, families and carers in Haringey.