‘It’s time to move from awareness to empowerment’: Welsh Conservatives call for autism service improvements for third time in this Assembly term

Mark Isherwood AM led a third Welsh Conservative charge in Welsh Parliament this afternoon, calling for the Welsh Government to step up and tackle problems with autism services across the country.

The Party has taken a second shot at the government on this issue this year, after hearing repeated pleas from autism service users and charities over a ‘postcode lottery’ for people across the country.

Shadow Cabinet Members and campaigners were left bitterly disappointed in January after Welsh Conservative Leader Paul Davies’s Autism Bill was rejected by the Welsh Government in an act of ‘political tribalism’.

Mark Isherwood, Shadow Minister and Party autism champion, also brought a Bill forward in October 2016, which was voted down.

He today led the debate across the Chamber, repeating his calls for more to be done to create a consistent, accountable and well-funded service which is thoroughly thought-through for the future.

Asking the Welsh Government to implement the recommendations of April’s independent Integrated Autism Service report, Mr Isherwood urged Ministers to work harder to provide sufficient support and services for Autistic people and their families, and to consider a broader approach to increase education and employment opportunities.

He also asked for the development of a clear and consistent monitoring system to allow for more effective reporting of outcomes for autistic people, as well as clarification on the future funding arrangements – of which there are currently none – for the Integrated Autism Service beyond the initial funding period of March 2021.

The Welsh Conservatives are in regular contact with charities and those struggling to access support in Wales. Paul Davies AM recently visited Taff’s Well charity AP Cymru and met with founder Karen Sullivan, who spoke of the charity’s desperate need for more funding. Hear more about Karen’s pleas for Welsh Government change on tonight’s BBC Wales Today and on Newyddion.

Commenting, Mark Isherwood AM, said:

“From diagnosis in children through to adulthood, people across Wales are falling through the gaps and are being failed by the Welsh Government’s stubborn disinterest in listening to experts in the field.

“After years of calling for change, Welsh Conservatives are undeterred and will continue to fight for better services and funding for the people and families living with autism spectrum conditions.

“Welsh Government may well repeat that it has a better alternative to bringing in legislation, and in that case, great! But we haven’t seen it yet, and time is quickly passing by.

“Our debate today sought to change outlooks and improve options for those with autism spectrum conditions. We need to begin to strengthen the autistic voice by moving beyond autism awareness to autism empowerment.”