In response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee report 'Universal Credit: support for disabled people' released today Wednesday 19th December, Rob Holland, Pubic Affairs and Parliamentary Lead at Mencap, says:
"The Committee's report confirms what we already fear: that the Government’s current proposal for transitioning from current benefits to Universal Credit will have disastrous consequences for people with a learning disability.
"The Government has estimated that around a quarter of people fail to complete their online application for Universal Credit. This will be even higher for people with a learning disability, for whom an online-only system can be difficult to navigate without the right support in place.
"No one should have their existing benefits stopped until their Universal Credit has been awarded. Many people with a learning disability rely solely on income from their benefits, so this ‘sink or swim’ approach currently being proposed would leave them in extreme financial difficulties. They simply must be supported to make a seamless transition from one set of benefits to avoid plunging vulnerable people into poverty, and causing them excessive worry and anxiety."
For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or firstname.lastname@example.org or for out of hours 07770 656 659.
Notes to editors
1. Mencap’s current trustees are Geoff Alltimes; Elaine Hindal; Katie Hollier; Stephen Jack OBE; Derek Lewis (chair); Linda Redford; Graham Williams; Andrew Wilson and David Wolverson.
2. Mencap trustees are appointed for a four-year term and can serve two in total. Responsible for the charity’s governance, the trustees have substantial experience of learning disabilities in a personal, voluntary or professional capacity.
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
Mencap provided direct support to 5,231 people with a learning disability in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2017/2018 and answered nearly 13,000 calls through the Learning Disability Helpline. The charity celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email email@example.com.
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.
Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.