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Open Letter on Regulation

This letter was written and signed by some of the leading thinkers and practitioners who have championed the ideas of community, inclusion and citizenship for disabled people, especially people with learning disabilities. It expresses their deep concern at the direction of social policy in England and the use of bureaucratic processes which, in the name of safety, can leave people more isolated and more vulnerable. 

To: Norman Lamb (Minister of State at the Department of Health)

To: David Behan (Chief Executive, Care Quality Commission)

Dear Sirs 

Scandals of abuse in health and social care institutions continue to erupt with depressing regularity, but the system reacts with an increased focus on regulation, bureaucratisation and inspection. Yet there is no evidence that regulation helps improve the real quality of people’s lives or keeps people safer.

The key to keeping people safe and ensuring people have good lives is not a growth in bureaucracy, but a strengthening of the human relationships of love, acceptance and respect. We are losing perspective and lives are being harmed.

In a recent report Regulation - the unintentional destruction of intentional communities the authors found that communities that had been built on principles of love and community are now forced to fit within damaging regulatory regimes. This is a grave problem and these intentional communities are under threat.

The problem is even wider than this. Many community services are also regulated in ways to discourage paid staff from becoming friends with those they serve. Normal human relationships are being undermined and over-professionalised.

It is time for us to think again about how best to promote the kinds of lives people need and how to properly reduce the risk of harm and abuse. Regulators and government need to be accountable for the processes they develop and impose on our communities, and we need to start talking together about a better way forward.

Yours faithfully

  • Ralph Broad, Local Area Coordination Network
  • Frances Brown
  • Katie Clarke & Debs Aspland, Bringing Us Together
  • Sam Clark, Inclusion North
  • John Dalrymple, Neighbourhood Networks
  • Don Derrett
  • Simon Duffy, The Centre for Welfare Reform
  • Mark Hayden-Laurelut, University of Portsmouth
  • Sheila Hollins, Professor the Baroness Hollins
  • Doreen Kelly, Beyond Limits
  • Beth Mount, Graphic Futures
  • John O'Brien
  • Jack Pearpoint, Inclusion Press
  • Tony Phillips, Real Life Trust
  • Bob Rhodes, Lives Through Friends
  • John Sargent, L'Arche
  • Les Scaife, West Lancs Peer Support
  • David Towell, Centre for Inclusive Futures
  • Clare Wightman, Grapevine

The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.