Published ahead of today’s PMQs when Norman Lamb MP will launch a group of MPs calling for a cross-party approach on health and social care funding, the letter urges the Prime Minister to take ‘a bolder approach’ otherwise ‘millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers will continue to be badly let down’.

Mencap’s statement is below.

Dan Scorer, Mencap's Head of Policy, said:

People with a learning disability face some of the most serious inequalities in society: on average, people with a learning disability die 16 years younger, and nearly a third of young people with a learning disability spend less than an hour outside their home each day.

The lack of funding across the sectors means people with a learning disability are struggling to maintain their health and wellbeing, and are becoming increasingly isolated, facing the fear of what will happen to them if vital support and services are cut.

Further cuts to local council budgets combined with planned cuts to benefits will push more people with a learning disability further into poverty and ill health. We urge the Government to act now to develop a long-term funding solution that will ensure health and care services are able to fully support people who desperately rely on them.


For further information, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or or for out of hours 07770 656 659.

Open letter

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: Seeking a long-term settlement for health and social care.

There can be no doubt about the scale of the challenges facing health and social care services in England. Barely a day goes by without news of immediate problems – service reductions, missed targets – and warnings of future failings. 2017 simply cannot be another year where these huge issues are ducked.

While the Government has taken some short term steps to try and relieve the pressures on the NHS and local authorities, without more fundamental action, these challenges will accelerate as our population increases and ages.

Although you have recognised the need to find a longer term solution, you have not yet said how you will go about developing one. Unless you adopt a bolder approach millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers, will continue to be badly let down.

That’s why we are now calling for the government to establish a cross-party process to review and recommend action on future health and social care funding.

We believe that process should be:

  • Inclusive: established by the government with meaningful cross party engagement
  • Open: listening to the public and professionals who use and work in these services every day
  • Urgent: the cross party process should get underway without delay but this should not prevent shorter term investment, particularly to support the care system.

Such a process should not aim to ‘take the politics out of health and care’ but rather to make clear the costs and consequences of the political decisions that must be made. It should recognise that just as no one party should be blamed for the current challenges, nor can a genuinely long term solution be owned only by one party.

Brave thinking is required to ensure the right recommendations are backed with political will.

There can be no room for complacency. The time to act is now.

Signatories to the open letter to the Prime Minister

  1. Janet Morrison, Chief Executive, Independent Age
  2. Janet Davies, Chief Executive & General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing
  3. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair, Royal College of GPs
  4. Cathie Williams, Chief Officer, ADASS
  5. Jo Miller, President, SOLACE
  6. Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive, Carers UK
  7. Dr Jane Collins, CEO, Marie Curie
  8. Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive, Patients Association
  9. Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England
  10. Colin Angel, Policy and Campaigns Director, UK Home Care Association
  11. Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman, National Care Association
  12. Frank Ursell, Chief Executive, Registered Nursing Home Association
  13. Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum
  14. Neil Heslop, Chief Executive, Leonard Cheshire Disability
  15. Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
  16. Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive, Royal Mencap Society
  17. Sally Harvey, Interim Chief Executive, RNIB
  18. Paul Breckell, Chief Executive, Action on Hearing Loss
  19. Steve Vaid, Acting Chief Executive, Guide Dogs
  20. Richard Kramer, Deputy CEO, Sense
  21. Rt Hon Prof Paul Burstow, Former Minister of State for Care
  22. Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, CIPFA
  23. David Sinclair, Director, ILC-UK
  24. Eileen Burns, President, British Geriatrics Society
  25. Irene Sobowale, CEO, The Disabilities Trust
  26. Lisa Lenton, Director, ARC England
  27. Sue Adams OBE, Chief Executive, Care and Repair England
  28. Robert Stephenson-Padron, Managing Director, Penrose Care Agency
  29. Ian Cumming MBE, Director of Fundraising and Communications, Guideposts
  30. Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation
  31. Lisa Hopkins, Chief Executive, SeeAbility
  32. Tim Cooper, CEO, United Response
  33. Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive, Anchor
  34. Azra Kirkby, Interim CEO, Real Life Options
  35. Alex Fox OBE, CEO, Shared Lives Plus
  36. Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT
  37. Sue Browning, CEO, Spinal Injuries Association
  38. Michael Voges, Executive Director, ARCO
  39. Gary FitzGerald, CEO, Action on Elder Abuse
  40. Simon Chapman, Director of Policy and External Affairs, National Council for Palliative Care
  41. Jonathan Senker, Chief Executive, VoiceAbility
  42. Dr Rhidian Hughes, CEO, VODG
  43. Susan Hale, General Manager, Colostomy Association
  44. Carol Boys, Chief Executive, Down's Syndrome Association
  45. David McCullough, Chief Executive, Royal Voluntary Service
  46. Mark Lever, Chief Executive, National Autistic Society
  47. Sue Bott, Deputy Chief Executive, Disability Rights UK
  48. Judi Rhys, CEO, Arthritis Care
  49. Tracey Bleakley, CEO, Hospice UK
  50. Dr Mohsin Khan, Co-founder and Chief Policy Officer, NHS Survival
  51. Dr Sam Barrell, Chief Executive, Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
  52. Phil Pegler, Chief Executive, Community Integrated Care
  53. Justin Irwin, Chief Executive, Family and Childcare Trust
  54. Kirsty Woodard, Ageing without Children
  55. Derek Cribb, Chief Executive, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
  56. Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive, Carers Trust
  57. Oonagh Aitken, CEO, Volunteering Matters
  58. Mr Adam Williams, President, Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT)
  59. Mr Simon Fleming, President, British Orthopaedic Trainees Association
  60. Dr Matt Mayer, Chair, GP Survival
  61. Olivia Belle, Director of External Affairs, Arthritis Research UK
  62. Professor Julienne Meyer, City University
  63. Dr Zoe Norris, Chair of Sessional Subcommittee, General Practitioners Committee UK
  64. Dr Phil Hammond, NHS Associate Specialist & Vice Chair of The Patients Association
  65. Dr Umesh Prabhu, Consultant Paediatrician and Medical Director
  66. Mr Dermot O’Riordan, Consultant Surgeon
  67. Mr Johann Malawana, Director, The Healthcare Leadership Academy
  68. Stella Vig, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  69. Prof. Nigel Standfield, Professor of Vascular Surgery and Surgical Education and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  70. Mr Shafi Ahmed, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  71. Mr Richard Kerr, Former President of Society of British Neurological Surgeons and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  72. Dr Peter JP Holden, British Medical Association Council Member and Treasurer of Derbyshire LMC
  73. Dr Rob Galloway, Emergency Medicine Consultant
  74. Mr Ben Dean, Orthopaedic Registrar and Honorary Research Fellow
  75. Roshana Mehdian, Orthopaedic Registrar and Assistant Course Director, The Healthcare Leadership Academy

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

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’