Last reviewed: April 2016 | Next review: June 2020

Benefits

Benefits should enable people with a learning disability and their families to have a home, pay bills, buy food and have some disposable income to spend as they wish. Social security must help individuals to find and stay in work if they can, and provide security if they cannot. It must also support people with a learning disability to meet the extra costs they are likely to face [1]

Current situation

Disabled people, including people with a learning disability and their families, are more likely to live in poverty than the general population. Currently, 31% of households including a disabled person live in poverty, compared to 18% of households where no one is disabled [2]. This is partly a result of the extra costs faced by disabled people ­– £550 per month on average [3]. People with a learning disability and their families also face barriers to accessing social security available to them in and out of work, and the levels often do not meet the extra costs they face.

Applications for social security can be challenging for people with a learning disability and their families, resulting in many needing support to apply. In addition, waiting times for assessments and decisions often take months. Assessments are often of poor quality, resulting in the majority of appeal decisions found in favour of the claimant [4]. People with a learning disability are also forced to undergo regular re-assessments, to keep the out-of-work and disability related entitlements that they already receive. Furthermore, people with a learning disability often face unreasonable expectations and inadequate support in relation to moving towards and finding employment. This often results in sanctions which remove some social security payments, causing further financial hardship.

Benefits vision statement

Download our Benefits vision statement to print off and read

Download resource

References

  1. People with a learning disability have a right to an adequate standard of living. This includes the right to access social security when they need it. However Mencap believes this right should be to a good standard of living.
  2. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Disability and Poverty, 2015. These figures adjust for disability benefits.
  3. Brawn, E: Priced Out, Scope, April 2014
  4. Put the link here about ESA / PIP appeals

Benefits - easy read statement

Download the easy read version of our vision statement on benefits. It tells you what we think about people with a learning disability getting support to live  the lives they want to  and what we want it to.

Download resource
A lady being helped with some forms

What we want

Mencap want benefits to play its part in supporting people with a learning disability and their families to have a good standard of living. In order for this to happen:

  • The government and society should recognise social security as a necessary right and a form of income replacement to help alleviate poverty.
  • The extra costs that people with a learning disability face must be recognised and met in full by the social security system.
  • The social security system must provide people with stability and long-term security, and not force them to undergo continual reassessments. 

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