Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Andrew Lee, Director, People First (MCAB01)

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to express my serious concerns about the way that the Government is making changes to the Mental Capacity Act. The Mental Capacity Amendment Bill will affect the lives of many people with learning difficulties in a big way. However, the process of consultation and evidence collection is being done in such a way that it excludes the participation of people with learning difficulties.

My first concern is that, to date, there has been no information about the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill and the changes that are being put forward, in Easy Read. Disabled people need accessible information in a format that they can understand to be able to take part in consultation or give evidence. To date, the Government has given no information in Easy Read, this means that one of the main groups affected by the changes to this law, are being completely excluded. We have been told that information will be provided in Easy Read, however, this has not yet happened, and it is simply not good enough that people with learning difficulties should have to wait longer than the general public to get information about a law that will directly impact upon our lives. The Government is discriminating against people with learning difficulties by not giving us a chance to take part in this process right from the beginning.

My second concern is about the pace with which this Bill is being pushed through. The Bill is now being looked at by the Committee in the House of Commons between 15th and 24th January. This is happening despite the fact that there is still no information in Easy Read and user led organisations were not engaged right from the beginning. The time line that is being worked to means that people with learning difficulties will be excluded from giving evidence at this stage.

I recommend that the period for receiving evidence is extended to at least the end of February and that information about the amendments being made to the law are produced in Easy Read as a matter of urgency. If these concerns are not addressed this will be direct discrimination against people with learning difficulties and it is very likely that the Bill will not be fit for purpose.

I look forward to a response addressing my two concerns, with information about how the Government plans to include people with learning difficulties in this process and how it plans to make the process accessible to one of the key groups of people affected by this Bill.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Lee

Director

People First (Self Advocacy)

December 2018

 

Prepared 15th January 2019