Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, actress and star of Broadchurch Jodie Whittaker and Game of Thrones star Kit Harington are amongst the celebrities calling on the UK public to lend their support to Mencap’s campaign urging the Government to step in and solve a funding crisis that could see thousands of people with a learning disability lose their homes, and support workers lose their jobs.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley, journalist and broadcaster Kate Spicer and Mencap’s own Harry Roche, who has a learning disability all feature to highlight Mencap’s #StopSleepInCrisis campaign which urges the Government to take action to remove the looming threat(1)1 to vital overnight care of people with a learning disability.

Following a change in Government guidance around the payment of overnight sleep-in support, the learning disability sector is facing a £400m(2) back pay bill which will lead to the closure of services and the collapse of some care providers. This puts the future care and safety of the 178,000(3) people with a learning disability who rely on sleep-in support at risk. 

Mencap ambassador and star of Broadchurch, Jodie Whittaker said:

"I am passionate about equality of opportunity in our society. The lives of thousands of vulnerable people with a learning disability are about to be devastated. They urgently need and deserve all the support we can give them."

Mencap ambassador, Harry Roche, who has a learning disability said:

"Speaking on behalf of people with a learning disability, if the Government doesn't step-up and take responsibility for back pay it will show that they don't care.

"It's not fair on people with learning disability to remove the vital support they receive. Without it, they could become homeless and open to neglect and abuse."

Mencap ambassador and Game of Thrones star, Kit Harington said:

"Learning disability shaped my life and my relationship with my cousin Laurent.

Please stand with Royal Mencap Society and help us protect the future of learning disability care in the UK and safeguard the ability of some of our most vulnerable people to live meaningful, independent lives."

Jan Tregelles, chief executive at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“This video spells out the risks to the future of learning disability care in the UK, as a result of the massive £400m sleep-ins back pay bill.

“If Government does not commit to fully fund the back pay, many service providers will become insolvent and the residential care facilities that allow people with a learning disability to live an independent life in their local community will close. Surely, no one wants to see a return to the days of large and isolated institutions, where people can be at a higher risk of neglect and abuse?

“We are indebted to our fantastic celebrity supporters for backing our campaign. We hope the public will stand with them and help protect the future care of 178,000 of the most vulnerable people in our society.”


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

Notes to editors

Royal Mencap Society Ambassadors and all unpaid volunteers that generously donate their time to support people with a learning disability.  

  1. On 26 July 2017 the Government announced it would temporarily suspend HMRC back pay enforcement action until October 2 2017.
  2. Cordis Bright research on sleep-ins found back-pay claims could range between £160 million and over £400 million
  3. 178,000 people with a learning disability in the UK who are known to statutory services: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/cmsproxyimage?path=/_media/docs/ccmh_ld.pdf

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 help@mencap.org.uk.

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’.