landscape shot of the Houses of Parliament

Ahead of the General Election on 12 December, we have been calling on all Westminster political parties to make society work for autistic people and their families in the next Parliament. Whoever forms the next Government, it’s vital they prioritise supporting autistic people and their families.

This page sets out some of the commitments that the main political parties have made in their manifestos that might be interesting to autistic people and their families. However, the parties have lots of other ideas too. If you would like to find out more about any of them, we have included links to the parties’ manifestos.

As a charity, we are politically neutral and don’t support or oppose any particular political party. We will continue to work with all political parties to make sure autism is a priority.

Parties standing in England

What we’re calling for

In England, the Government has been carrying out a review of the national autism strategy. Our Not Enough campaign has highlighted the things that we think this should consider. The new strategy was due to be published by the end of this year, but because of the election this will be delayed. We’re calling on the next government, whoever takes office after the 12 December, to publish the strategy as soon as possible.

Based on our Not Enough calls, we published our own manifesto, which set out the top things we want all political parties to commit to:
  • Publish a new autism strategy
  • Commit to an autism public understanding campaign
  • Create specialist autism teams in every area to tackle the autism diagnosis crisis
  • Review the definition of “mental disorder” in the Mental Health Act to stop autistic people being inappropriately detained in mental health hospitals
  • Continue to fund the Autism Education Trust
  • Make sure all public sector employees have the autism training they need to create public services that work for autistic people.

We have asked our campaigners to sign our open letter to the parties’ leaders to commit to these things. You can still sign this letter.

What the parties have said

No party specifically mentioned the autism strategy. However, the Autism Act requires there to be a strategy, so we hope to see this published as soon as possible. We have included the manifestos in the order they were published.

Green Party

The Green Party has committed to:

  • Providing an additional £4.5 billion a year to fund councils to provide free social care to people over 65 who need support in their own homes. They would also explore how free social care at home could be extended to everyone who needs it, including working-age disabled adults.
  • Making sure that everyone who needs mental health support can get it within 28 days.
  • Increasing funding for schools by at least £4bn a year. They have also committed to a “fully inclusive education system”, where children with special education needs are able to access their local school and are fully supported in that school. They have also said they will keep specialist schools for people who would prefer this.
  • Replacing OFSTED with a different system of assessing and supporting schools.
  • Targeting employment support at those who need it most, including “those excluded from full participation in the economy”.
  • Fully embedding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into UK law.
  • Bringing in Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would mean that everyone would receive a basic income from the Government. There would be a supplement to this for disabled people, and they would maintain Carer’s Allowance on top of it for carers who qualify.
  • Replacing Universal Credit and ending benefits sanctions.
  • Supporting councils to better provide housing for disabled people, and to significantly increase the numbers of homes built to mobility standards over the next five years.
  • Fund these policies by taxing income from investments/assets at the same rate as taxation of income from work, raising tax on corporations and the bank asset tax.

The Liberal Democrats

There are two specific mentions of autism in the manifesto:

  • “Fully introduce Sir Stephen Bubb’s ‘Time for Change’ report recommendations and ensure that Assessment and Treatment Units are closed urgently. Too many people with profound learning disability or autism are being detained in unacceptable institutions.”
  • “Increase access to a broader range and number of clinically effective talking therapies so that hundreds of thousands more people can receive this support, with equal access for older people, BAME and LGBT+ patients, and people with autism or learning disabilities.”

The Liberal Democrats’ other commitments include:

  • Increasing NHS and social care funding by £7bn a year. This will specifically come from a 1p rise on income tax. They will also look at ideas for a dedicated tax to fund health and care. Their aim is to bring together NHS, social care and public health – pooling budgets in every area and supporting integrated care systems.
  • Establishing a cross-party health and social care convention to reach agreement on the long-term sustainable funding of a joined-up system of health and social care.
  • Implementing all the recommendations of the independent review of the Mental Health Act.
  • Introducing additional mental health maximum waiting time standards, starting with children’s services, services for people with eating disorders and severe and enduring conditions.
  • Ensuring that no one in crisis is turned away and that those admitted to hospital for mental ill-health are able to be treated close to home for all but the most specialist mental health services.
  • Increasing funding for schools, and SEN funding, including an extra 20,000 teachers. They would give councils more funding so that they “halve the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s EHCP”.
  • Replacing OFSTED with a new HM Inspector of Schools, and replacing existing performance tables.
  • Reducing the wait for first benefits payment for Universal Credit to five days and removing the benefits cap. They would also reverse the previous reduction to the Work-Related Activity Group in Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Replace Work Capability Assessments with a new system run by councils, and reinstate the Independent Living Fund.
  • In addition to raising revenue specifically for health and social care, they are pledging to raise corporation tax, take action on tax evasion and increase taxes on income from capital.

The Labour Party

There is a specific mention of autism in the manifesto:

  • “The provision of additional care packages also means we can support autistic people and people with learning disabilities to move out from inappropriate inpatient hospital settings and provide support in their own homes.” The Shadow Care Minister has said that this includes providing £350m per year to improve community care for autistic people.

The Labour Party’s other commitments include:

  • Increasing funding for the NHS by an average 4.3% a year. This is in order to end patient charges, guarantee standards of healthcare, and train more staff, among other things.
  • Repealing the Health and Social Care Act.
  • Establishing a National Care Service for England for people’s social care needs and reform the eligibility criteria. This would include free personal care, starting with older people, with the ambition to extend to all working-age adults. They will include a “lifetime cap on personal contributions” to care costs.
  • Increasing mental health funding by £1.6 billion a year, including improving access to therapies. They also pledged to implement the recommendations set out in the independent review of the Mental Health Act.
  • Increasing long-term funding for schools and introducing a new funding allocation formula. They also plan to replace OFSTED with a new body.
  • Recruiting 150,000 additional early years staff, including Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators, and providing the “necessary funding” for children with special educational needs and disabilities. In addition, they commit to ending ‘off-rolling’, to stop pupils from falling out of the system, and to reforming alternative provision.
  • Reintroducing specialist employment advisors. They would also introduce a Reasonable Adjustments Passport scheme to help people record their needs and move between jobs more easily. They would review support for disabled people at work, including the Access to Work scheme.
  • Working with employers, trade unions and public services to improve awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace and in society.
  • Replacing Universal Credit and end the current five-week waiting period for benefits. They are also committing to end sanctions and scrap the benefits cap. In addition, on benefits, they would:
  • End the current Work Capability Assessment and PIP assessments and bring assessments for these benefits in-house
  • Increase Employment and Support Allowance by £30 per week for those in the Work-Related Activity Group
  • Raise the basic rate of support for children with a disability to the level of Child Tax Credits
  • Provide extra support for severely disabled people who don’t have a formal carer.
  • Increase the Carer’s Allowance to the level of the Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Give effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
  • To pay for their commitments, they say they will increase income tax for people earning over £80,000, increase corporation tax and reduce tax avoidance.

The Brexit Party

The Brexit Party called their manifesto a “Contract”. It was shorter than the other parties’ manifestos. It includes commitments to:

  • Invest in the NHS, increasing staff.
  • Abolish hospital targets and introduce 24-hour GP surgeries.
  • Discuss ring-fencing the NHS budget.
  • Undertake a 12-month review of Universal Credit to see if it should be reformed.

The Conservative and Unionist Party

There are two specific mentions of autism in the manifesto:

  • “Make it easier for people with learning disabilities and autism to be discharged from hospital and improve how they are treated in law.”
  • “Provide £74 million over three years for additional capacity in community care settings for those with learning disabilities and autism.”

The Conservative Party’s other commitments include:

  • Increasing funding to the NHS and recruiting more doctors and nurses.
  • A three point plan on social care, including:
    • £1bn additional funding each year
    • Seeking cross-party consensus on long-term reform for funding social care
    • Making sure no one has to sell their home to pay for care costs.
  • Extending the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to one week.
  • Treating mental health on an equal footing with physical health, legislating to give patients more control over their treatment.
  • Providing £780 million additional funding for supporting children with Special Educational Needs in the next year, and to deliver more school places for children with complex needs.
  • Supporting the use of exclusions to improve behaviour. They say they believe in the value of OFSTED as a way to improve standards and behaviour.
  • Reducing the number of benefits reassessments some disabled people have to go through when a significant change in their condition is unlikely.
  • Publishing a national strategy for disabled people before the end of 2020, which will look at ways to improve the benefits system, opportunities and access for disabled people in terms of housing, education, transport and jobs.
  • Reducing the disability employment gap.

Parties standing in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

We campaign to transform the lives of autistic people and their families all across the UK, but our priorities in every nation reflect local issues. Some of the areas that matter to autistic people have been devolved to the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh governments, which means that the Government in Westminster has transferred some of its power to these governments. And that means that what we campaign on across the nations differs.

Here’s what parties standing in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are saying:

Democratic Unionist Party

In its manifesto, and supporting policy plan, the party commits to:

  • Implementing the Bengoa reforms and increasing spending on health by at least £1 billion by the end of the Assembly term in 2021 and call for a royal commission to find a fair, sustainable model for adult social care across the UK.
  • Increasing focus on prevention and transforming services in mental health services, and establish a single NI service model.
  • Establishing a number of specialist regional services to cover the whole of NI, including: community psychiatry for those with learning disabilities; Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health crisis management services; and 24-hour multidisciplinary mental health liaison service, across all acute hospitals.
  • Increasing investment in psychological therapies to improve waiting times.
  • Fully implementing the Mental Capacity Act.
  • Prioritising Special Educational Needs with extra funding received through “Confidence and Supply”. They are pledging to identify special needs at an early age, provide pupil statements and provide training to teachers and assistants in this area.
  • Reforming the model of inspection in schools.
  • Looking into reforming Personal Independence Payments and wider social security and establish a fund for professional tribunal representation.
  • Establishing a model for learning disability services, taking on board the findings of investigations and the public inquiry into failings at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
  • Working with the voluntary sector to “improve leisure opportunities for those with disabilities”.
  • Ending the benefits freeze and commit to raising this in line with inflation.

Plaid Cymru

There is a specific mention of autism in the manifesto:

  • “Pass an Autism Act for Wales that adopts a rights-based approach for people with autism, or who are suspected of having autism but are yet to receive a diagnosis.”

Plaid Cymru’s other commitments include:

  • Requiring public services to make reasonable adjustments, and setting out that neuro-diversity should be regarded as an equalities issue. They pledge to make neuro-divergence a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act
  • Setting up a new National Health and Social Care Service with the aim of providing free social care to “for the elderly and other vulnerable citizens”. They say this will cost £300 million a year.
  • Continuing to support proper funding of councils and increase the Welsh budget’s focus on preventative, community support across health, care and education.
  • Putting mental health and physical health on an equal footing, and providing a 5% increase for mental health spending every year in the next decade.
  • Establishing a 24/7 mental health crisis service, Wales-based inpatient treatment to stop out-of-area placements, and increasing investment in community mental health services.
  • Supporting sheltered employment schemes to encourage disabled people into work, and stopping sanctions being used.
  • Investing an extra £300 million a year for schools and colleges to improve long-term planning.
  • Ensuring all apprentices under 21 are partnered with a further education college, so that they have the support they need.
  • Pushing for welfare powers to be devolved, and negotiating funding for PIP, Carer’s Allowance and DLA amongst other benefits.
  • Ensuring local authorities and social landlords provide more disabled-friendly and lifetime housing adapted to disabled people’s needs.
  • Funding these policies by reversing the Westminster Government’s planned reductions in corporation tax, restricting income tax relief on pension contributions, and increasing the employee rate of National Insurance contributions.

Alliance (Northern Ireland)

The party has committed to:

  • Making social care free at the point of use, funded through progressive collective risk pooling.
  • Reforming the education system and invest in schools.
  • Implementing the Bengoa reforms to the health services.
  • A full review of the UK welfare system, preferably by a Royal Commission and, as part of this, to look at the possibility of Universal Basic Income. They also pledge in the first year of the new Parliament, to: remove the benefits cap; replace sanctions with an incentive-based system; reduce the five-week wait for the first payment and offer an interim payment; end outsourcing of medical assessments for welfare; and end frequent assessments for lifelong, permanent or deteriorating conditions.
  • Calling on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to extend UC mitigations for Northern Ireland for 4 more years.
  • Advocating for increasing Carer’s Allowance, bringing it into line with Job Seekers’ Allowance, ensure carers have access to respite, and:
  • Pushing for a Northern Ireland approach to identifying and supporting child carers, and a strategy for alternative provision.

Scottish National Party

The party has committed to:

  • Proposing a new law to protect the NHS in Scotland, as well as Wales and England, and ‘Health & Social Care in Northern Ireland’, from being subject to future trade deals.
  • Pushing for powers over employment law to be devolved to the Scottish Government.
  • Ending the deliberate “targeting of the poorest and most vulnerable by successive Westminster governments.”
  • Stopping Universal Credit, immediately end the benefit freeze, and an end to sanctions.

We are still waiting on manifestos from Sinn Fein, the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) and the Ulster Unionist Party and will update this page when these are published.

If you want to know more about what we’re campaigning on across the nations, please contact our teams in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.