Government Response to the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill’s report

A year late, the government has published its response to the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill’s report

Over a year after it was due, the government has finally published its response to the report by the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill. The delay in responding to the Joint Committee’s report and its exclusion from the King’s Speech last November means that it is highly unlikely this Bill will enter Parliament before the next general election. The Government appears to have no sense of urgency, or to see the need to prioritise this. 

We note that in their response, the Government say that they will not be taking forward any additional steps to increase the provision of community support, despite the clear need. In our submission to the Joint Committee, the CBF and Mencap highlighted the need to strengthen duties to develop community support for people with a learning disability and autistic people – a call echoed by many others. Without new duties, ring-fenced funding, and political will,  the community support and services needed for people with a learning disability and autistic people will not be commissioned and delivered. The current situation will continue – where children and adults with a learning disability and/or who are autistic  get stuck in inpatient units for an average of 5 years, unable to go home because the community doesn’t have the right services to support them. This is indefensible.

We are also deeply concerned that the government has rejected the recommendation to review the Building the Right Support action plan. The current action plan, widely criticised for being inadequate and ineffective, is rapidly going out of date. A new, updated and strengthened plan that is clear and workable must be co-produced to support people with a learning disability and autistic people in the years to come.  

This delayed response has been issued less than two weeks before the government’s target – to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autistic people detained in inpatient units by half – is missed. The latest data shows that this target won’t be met for another 6 years. Unless there is a significant shift in mindset and approach by political leaders, people with a learning disability and autistic people will continue to be stuck in inpatient units, far away from their families and communities, when they do not need to be. 

Alongside people with lived experience, the CBF, Mencap, BASW England, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, VoiceAbility, the Association for Real Change, Rightful Lives, the Autism Alliance, Learning Disability England, the National Autistic Society, and many other campaigners are calling on Government Ministers to take strong action to change this. We need a strengthened and resourced action plan, with new commitments for investment in community support to prevent inappropriate admission and to enable people who are currently inappropriately in inpatient services to be discharged.  

Everyone who has a learning disability and/or is autistic who is inappropriately detained in hospital has a right to live good lives in, and as part of, their local communities. We need proper, ring-fenced investment in community support; resourced work to tackle the unacceptably long lengths of stay for people with a learning disability; and a plan to address the worrying rise in the number of autistic people without a learning disability that are being admitted. 

Sign the joint petition 

Find out more about what actions policy makers need to take 


You can read the Joint Committee’s report here 

You can read the government’s full response here 

Read the CBF and Mencap’s submission to the Joint Committee here 


Support from the CBF 

Resources on our website 

The CBF has information available for anyone who has concerns about the issues raised which can be found here: 

When things go wrong 

Supporting organisations 


Family Support Service 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this statement, you can call the Family Support Service on 0300 666 0126 

Or email us at 

We are open at the following times: 

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm 
Friday: 9am – 3pm 

We offer information about challenging behaviour to anyone who provides support to a child, young person or adult with a severe learning disability. We can also signpost you to other specialist organisations and sources of information. 

Please note we are a small support service so you may not be able to get support straight away. We will support families with urgent concerns as a priority. 

Professionals are also welcome to contact the CBF.