Following a meeting with junior ministers from the BEIS and DH, Margot James and Jackie Doyle Price yesterday, the chairman of Royal Mencap Society (Mencap) expressed his disappointment that Government wasn’t able to indicate when a decision on this critical issue(1) would be taken.

The Learning Disability Sector was represented by senior leaders from United Response, Voyage Care, Hft and Mencap. They emphasised throughout the hour-long meeting(2) that a serious crisis in the learning disability sector, with the risk of insolvencies and the consequent harm to some of the most vulnerable in our society could only be stopped if HMRC enforcement action was suspended by 15 August 2017.

Concern was expressed about the impact of this uncertainty on the jobs and pensions of hard working care staff. Mencap Chairman, Derek Lewis, also raised the spectre of an unquantified impact on the NHS if the Government failed to underwrite the cost of NMW back-pay liabilities, caused by the change in Government interpretation(3). If providers went into insolvency the duty of care for 178,000(4) people with serious learning disabilities would ultimately fall on an already overburdened NHS.

The Chairman of Mencap, Derek Lewis said:

“The Learning Disability Sector welcomed the acknowledgement by junior ministers of the gravity and scale of the problem and their concern for vulnerable families.

“However, the inability of Government even to indicate the likely timing of a decision let alone put forward an interim solution to the problem, was more than surprising after months of discussion.

“As Mencap has made clear, the clock is ticking – no decision to halt HMRC enforcement action by 15 August will have very serious consequences for providers and their continued viability to operate.

“Mencap will continue to press Government to prioritise the future care of some of the most vulnerable in our society. Stopping the sleep in crisis should be a top priority for the senior ministers in any caring Government.

 “The Learning Disability sector needs Government to face up to its responsibilities and give a public undertaking to fund back-pay if the Court of Appeal upholds the Tribunal Decision”.


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or out of hours 07770 656 659 or email

Notes to editors

  1. Royal Mencap Society Chief urges Government to avert crisis in the learning disability sector. Royal Mencap Society issued a news release on Wednesday 19 July 2017 -
  2. Meeting with BEIS and DH. The meeting took place on Thursday 20 July 2017 between junior ministers from Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department of Health and senior leaders from Mencap, United Response, Voyage Care, Home Farm Trust.
  3. BEIS Guidance on calculating the National Minimum Wage – last updated October 2016:
  4. 178,000 people with a learning disability in the UK who are known to statutory services:

Learning Disability Care Sector

There are about 200 organisations in the sector. Around 40% are charities of varying sizes, of which Mencap is one of the largest. 40% are private sector large and medium sized firms and the remainder are small local social enterprises, often set up by families.

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’.

Download an official copy of the press release in PDF format here