Ciara Lawrence, who has a learning disability and is in full time employment said:

I find it disgusting that in 2014 a senior politician and member of the House of Lords is alleged to still believe inequality is acceptable. I did not choose to have a learning disability, however I do choose to work a full time job and with the right support around me have become a respected and valued member of my team. The same is true for many other people with a disability.

People with a disability are often made to feel like second class citizens and face many barriers when trying to receive the same rights as everyone else, especially in employment. Having a politician place further barriers to us being included is incredibly upsetting and frankly quite frightening.

I hope politicians realise that people with a disability should be encouraged to become active citizens, and not to be discriminated against for their disability, and I want to call for a full explanation of how these comments are deemed acceptable in this day and age.

-ENDS-

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk

Notes to editors

In response to a question from a Conservative councillor, Lord Freud the minister appears to suggest that some disabled people are 'not worth’ Full quote circulated by Labour:

You make a really good point about the disabled. Now I had not thought through, and we have not got a system for, you know, kind of going below the Minimum Wage.

"But we do have… You know, Universal Credit is really useful for people with the fluctuating conditions who can do some work - go up and down - because they can earn and get...and get, you know, bolstered through Universal Credit, and they can move that amount up and down.

"Now, there is a small…there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…

About Mencap 

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 thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. 

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

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. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.