A Skilled, Supported Workforce

Ensuring that everyone working to support children, young people and adults with a learning disability have the skills that they need to do so, and are well-supported.

What actions need to be taken?

1. Ensure that care and support workers are paid a fair wage for their work, recognising the skill required to support people with a learning disability to live good lives 

People with a learning disability deserve to be able to live good lives in their local communities – but they need support to do this. Being a support worker involves empathy and understanding; training in how to support people with a learning disability, including people with a severe learning disability and people with a learning disability whose behaviour challenges; communication skills; adaptability, flexibility, and a willingness to take positive risks. These are skilled jobs, but due to the low rates of pay available, support workers are leaving the sector, there is high turnover, and it is difficult to recruit and retain staff. This is bad for support workers, who are not being paid a wage that reflect the skills and responsibilities of their role, and it is bad for the people they support, who have the right to build relationships with their support workers, who need support workers who understand their preferences and support needs, and who, in many cases, find change distressing. 

Research by ARC in 2023 found that 94% of local authorities are paying rates for supported living services that do not allow providers to meet their statutory obligation to pay the National Living Wage. Community Integrated Care’s ‘Unfair to Care’ research found that social care workers are being paid on average £8036 less than someone doing an equivalent role in the NHS. 


The Government needs to: 

  • Match pay for support workers and social care workers to equivalent NHS bands



2. Support commissioners to proactively develop person-centred services and support within their local communities 

The Building the Right Support Action Plan included an action to “introduce new duties on commissioners to ensure that there are adequate community-based services in their local area to support people with learning disability and autistic people”. This was as part of planned reforms to the Mental Health Act, but since the draft Mental Health Bill was not included in the November 2023 King’s Speech, it cannot be brought forward within this Parliament. 

All children, young people and adults have the right to receive person centred support and services that are developed on the basis of a detailed understanding of their support needs, including their communication needs. This will be individually-tailored, flexible, responsive to changes in individual circumstances and delivered in the most appropriate local situation. – Challenging Behaviour Charter

The Government needs to: 

  • Introduce a duty on commissioners to develop community support for people with a learning disability within their local area 

The Department of Health and Social Care needs to: 

  • Work with commissioners to share examples of good practice commissioning for people with a learning disability 

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities need to: 

  • Produce joint guidance stating that commissioners should engage in market-shaping, not just ‘buying’, if there are no existing services within their area that meet the needs of their local population with a learning disability 


We have worked to co-produce these actions and asks, building on years of work that has gone before it. We are happy to engage with policy makers at a local, regional, and national level about how we can get things right for people with a learning disability whose behaviour challenges. If you would like to talk about any of the actions in this plan, or any work you are planning on doing, please email

Further information and resources

Best Practice Examples

Best Practice Examples

On this page you can find a list of examples of best practice and useful guides from the CBF and other organisations

Person-Centred Support

Person-Centred Support

Our resources give information about different aspects of communication and teaching new skills, support packages, transition planning and planning for the future.

Resources for Commissioners

Resources for Commissioners

A list of CBF resources and information sheets to support the commissioning of services for children and adults with a learning disability