Mencap’s Public Affairs Manager, Rob Holland, gave written and oral evidence of the experience of people with a learning disability to the Inquiry and support key recommendations such as the involvement of companions during assessments, audio recordings and the use of accessible Easy Read formats during correspondence.

Rob Holland, Public Affairs Manager at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“For assessors to be asking ‘when did you catch down syndrome’ this should be warning enough that our benefits system is failing the people it is designed to support.

“Assessors lack specific knowledge about how a disability affects someone’s life meaning people are not getting the vital support they need and deserve. It is no surprise that over 60% of appeals to benefit decisions are being successfully overturned when challenged.

“These failings come at a huge cost to the taxpayer and even greater cost to the lives of disabled people who have to cope with the stress and anxiety of navigating a benefits system that repeatedly makes wrong decisions and assumptions about their lives.

“The Government must now restore public trust and follow through on key recommendations such as audio recordings of assessments, making sure information is available in easy read formats and ensuring companions are listened to and not ignored during the assessment process.”




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’.