As the Government’s self-imposed deadline of 2 October approaches and people with a learning disability as well as their families, care staff and support providers await the Government's decision on whether or not it will fund the £400 million back-pay bill for overnight care, sleep-in shifts, Royal Mencap Society Chairman, Derek Lewis, called on Government to honour its obligations to fund statutory care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. 

Mencap Chairman, Derek Lewis said: 

"Sleep-in overnight care allows people with serious learning disabilities to live an independent life. Local Authorities decide who needs this essential care and central Government gives them the money to pay for it.

"Last autumn, when Government changed its interpretation of how care staff doing sleep-in shifts should be paid, massive unfunded back-pay liabilities were created that charities and other providers do not have the resources to pay.

"Care Quality Commission reports show that Mencap staff consistently do exceptional work and deserve to be paid fairly but charities like our own simply cannot subsidise statutory social care.

"Royal Mencap Society urges Government not to duck its responsibilities but to honour its obligations to fund statutory social care for those with complex needs and eligible to receive it. 

“Government needs to recognise that only a fully funded solution will work. Partial funding would see scores of small and medium sized charities and family run firms go to the wall as they quickly became insolvent. The damage will have been done.

"Securing the future of learning disability care across the UK would be the true hallmark of a Government that is committed to fairness and building a country where no-one gets left behind".


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

Notes to editors

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 the Learning Disability Helpline 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’.