The ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit is a strategic research programme, launched in July 2022, that provides improved data for the learning disability and autism adult social care sector.

The development of the learning disability adult social care sector has long been hindered by poor understanding and a lack of available data with which to illustrate the sector's challenges and achievements. The ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit is designed to enable a step-change in the understanding and appreciation of this large part of the broader social care sector.  The research programme allows new insight into the size, value, structure and dynamics of the sector, identifying best practice and innovation and providing a knowledge base to inform business planning and shape future policy making.

The development and content of the research programme is guided by a Research Steering Group that decides on research priorities and also provides core funding for the initiative. The Steering Group also acts as a forum for discussing sector-wide issues and agreeing joined up solutions. The Group, chaired by ARC England Director Clive Parry, is made up of a cross-section of care providers and leading stakeholders.

ARC England Research Steering Group members

Research projects and findings

1. Fee Rate Maps - updated with 2023-24 data

Our latest Fee Rate Maps have now been published:

Fee Rate Maps 2023-24 by local authority

Fee Rate Maps 2023-24 by constituency 

Read more about the development of the 2023-24 Fee Rate Maps >

2. Fee Rate Maps 2022-23
Our first piece of research, the Local Authority Fee Rates Data Visualisation 2022-23 found that 94% of local authorities are not paying fee rates that enable providers to pay their staff the National Living Wage. The data visualisation, produced by Polimapper, has been viewed over 1500 times, by our members, providers in the wider sector and local authorities themselves.

We are now continuing this work by repeating the Freedom of Information Request to all local authorities in England and Wales.

We plan to look at ways we can use the maps we developed in year one and which we will refresh and update with 2023/24 fee rate data to go further and to show how providers that are delivering the same services are being paid at different rates.

3. Sector Census

The Sector Census was designed by ARC and BMG to measure the size and profile of the learning disability and autism sector across metrics such as the size of the workforce, how services are funded, the numbers of people being supported and the types of service being provided.

4. Social Care Barometer
Part-funded by the RTR Foundation, the Social Care Barometer is a research project that started in October 2023 and is led by people with learning disabilities who will create and implement a survey which asks supported people about their social lives and community experiences.

5. Transforming Care / Building the Right Support
This research will explore whether funding flows are driving the wrong commissioning behaviour leaving people with a learning disability and autistic people in the wrong settings.

ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit Fund

If you would like to contribute financially to our work we have set up an ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit Fund. All donations, large or small, will help us provide data to improve the lives of people with a learning disability, autism or both.

If you would like to find out more about the work of the ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit please contact us.

Easy Read ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit Media Release