Local News
South Norfolk
  South Norfolk MP helps to bring Autism Law closer  

IMAGE: Richard Bacon MP at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons
Mr Bacon will join other MPs
in Parliament to support
the Autism Bill
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon is bringing the first ever autism law a step closer for local people affected by the condition, by supporting a bill currently going through Parliament.

Mr Bacon will join other MPs in Parliament to support the Autism Bill, backed by the National Autistic Society (NAS) and 13 other autism charities. The Bill needs 100 MPs to vote in its favour to see further parliamentary progress.

Mr Bacon is planning to speak on behalf of local people affected by the condition, and to help end the unacceptable postcode lottery of autism services across the UK.

Mr Bacon said:

“Locally we have begun to make some progress but there is still a long way to go.  Over the past 18 months I have been supporting a working group in which the county’s adult social services have been co-operating with mothers in South Norfolk with adult sons with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism.  As a result of the group’s work, the County will soon be launching a dedicated service to ensure that people affected by autism and Asperger Syndrome have access to the right sort of help and care.”

“It is clear that local authorities across the country have a lot more to do to recognise and treat seriously the problems faced by those with autism and Asperger Syndrome.  This Bill is a very important step in the right direction.”

“This is not a matter for party politics, but a critically important issue that is far too often overlooked and which affects people in every constituency. The Autism Bill has the potential to transform thousands of lives in this area.  I will be in Parliament to speak and vote for the Bill today and I hope many of my colleagues will show their support.”

The NAS I Exist campaign revealed many people with autism do not receive the kind of support that would help them achieve their potential in adulthood.  At least 1 in 3 adults with the condition are experiencing serious mental health difficulties as a result. Local authorities have been surprisingly slow to react; around two thirds of local authorities in England do not know how many children with autism there are in their area and just two are aware of the number of adults with the condition. 

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the NAS, said; “We are delighted to have the support of Richard Bacon MP and strongly urge other MPs to follow his lead. The Autism Bill is a huge step forward in ensuring a brighter future for people with this serious, lifelong and disabling condition, but we urgently need support to make this law. Without the right help autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect and we will keep campaigning until we see real change at a local level.”

The Autism Bill aims to place a duty on local authorities to recognise and fulfil their responsibilities towards people with autism. Measures proposed include: improving local information on the number of children and adults with autism, providing effective support from child to adult services and tackling the chronic lack of help for adults with the condition.

The Autism Bill is being taken forward by Cheryl Gillan MP, who was first out of the private members’ ballot.

27 February 2009