The First Minister of Wales today refused to commit to a law which would see the rights and needs of people with autism protected, despite such a law having existed in England since 2009.
The admission came following a challenge from Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies who - during First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) - drew into focus the need for specific legislation for autism, which would benefit the 34,000 people who live with the condition in Wales.
Carwyn Jones responded by saying his government was “actively considering” such a bill, but stopped short of making a commitment.
The Welsh Conservatives have a long-held commitment to delivering an Autism Act designed to ensure that local authorities and health boards give adults and children the timely and necessary support they need, as well as a timely diagnosis.
Published in February of this year, an evaluation document commissioned by the Welsh Government found that their policy in this area has been “patchy”, and has attracted criticism from a number of advocacy groups – particularly around the need to improve the speed at which patients are diagnosed, which is currently leading to service backlogs.
Speaking outside the Assembly Chamber, Andrew RT Davies said:
“It is greatly disappointing that the First Minister has refused to make a commitment to this crucial issue.
“For people of all ages, living with autism can make the world a confusing place in which to live and can affect things like maintaining relationships and their concentration in learning environments.
“It is therefore vital that we have a law which guarantees the timely diagnosis and access to services and support for people living with the condition.
“In the absence of Welsh Government buy-in for such a law, Welsh Conservatives will continue to drive forward its own plans for an autism bill and will be a tireless advocate for people living with the condition.”