The statutory guidance has been published to ensure the implementation of the adult autism strategy. This guidance tells local authorities, NHS bodies and NHS Foundation Trusts what actions should be taken to meet the needs of people with autism living in their area.

The Government published a new statutory guidance in March 2015, which replaced an existing guidance from 2010.

It clearly states that local authorities and the NHS:

  • should provide autism awareness training for all staff
  • must provide specialist autism training for key staff, such as GPs and community care assessors
  • cannot refuse a community care assessment for adults with autism based solely on IQ
  • must appoint an autism lead in their area
  • have to develop a clear pathway to diagnosis and assessment for adults with autism
  • need to commission services based on adequate population data.


As the guidance is statutory, local councils and local health bodies have a legal duty to implement it.

The 2015 guidance includes a lot more information than the 2010 version. In fact, there are five new chapters on:

  • Preventative support and safeguarding
  • Reasonable adjustments and equality
  • Supporting people with autism and complex needs
  • Employment
  • Criminal justice


Also, some of the duties have been strengthened to things that local authorities and NHS bodies "must" do. This is because new duties have been brought in by other laws (particularly the Care Act). The new guidance gives more information about how these new duties can lead to improvements for people with autism. This is particularly true of duties around training, which have been improved to give much clearer guidance on which professionals should have what levels of training.