There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.

The figures presented here have been calculated using learning disability prevalence rates from Public Health England (2016) and population data from the Office for National Statistics (2017). For more details, please consult our references page.

The big picture

  • There are approximately 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.
  • Approximately 1.2 million of those are in England.

People with a learning disability face significant difficulties in “listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, mathematics, foreign languages, coordination, spatial adaptation, memorization, and social studies. These difficulties range from mild to severe. Although a learning disability cannot be cured, the underlying conditions can be treated and managed so that children with a learning disability adapt, achieve academic success, and live productive, fulfilling lives" (Altarac and Saroha, 2007).

Adults with a learning disability

  • There are approximately 1,118,179 adults with a learning disability in the UK.
  • There are approximately 939,228 adults with a learning disability in England.
  • There are approximately 53,681 adults with a learning disability in Wales.
  • There are approximately 30,814 adults with a learning disability in Northern Ireland.

Adults of working age with a learning disability

  • There are approximately 862,995 adults of working age with a learning disability in the UK
  • There are approximately 725,729 adults of working age with a learning disability in England
  • There are approximately 39,973 adults of working age with a learning disability in Wales
  • There are approximately 24,382 adults of working age with a learning disability in Northern Ireland

    Children with a learning disability (0-17)

    • There are approximately 347,013 children with a learning disability (0-17) with a learning disability in the UK
    • There are approximately 294,632 children with a learning disability (0-17) with a learning disability in England
    • There are approximately 15,698 children with a learning disability (0-17) with a learning disability in Wales
    • There are approximately 10,889 children with a learning disability (0-17) with a learning disability in Northern Ireland

    Children with a learning disability (0-7)

    • There are approximately 161,480 children with a learning disability (0-7) with a learning disability in the UK
    • There are approximately 137,645 children with a learning disability (0-7) with a learning disability in England
    • There are approximately 7088children with a learning disability (0-7) with a learning disability in Wales
    • There are approximately 5046 children with a learning disability (0-7) with a learning disability in Northern Ireland

    How common is learning disability in the UK?

    Infographic

    Approximately 2.16% of adults in the UK are believed to have a learning disability 

    Approximately 2.5% of children in the UK are believed to have a learning disability 

     

    Research references

    Here you'll find full referencing for the Mencap research and statistics pages.

    Research references

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