Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

During this third national lockdown in England, the Government must ensure those shielding get the support they need – including adults with Down’s syndrome in the clinically extremely vulnerable group. In the first lockdown, national support to get food, medicine and other essential items was available, but is now left to under-resourced and over-stretched local authorities. We are deeply concerned people may struggle to get these basic items, and there are also fears about social care support cuts. In November, Mencap research showed that nearly nine in ten (87%) people with a learning disability have still have not had all their support reinstated eight months on from the first lockdown​ ​at a time when support needs have hugely increased. 

“And with people with a learning disability having died from COVID at up to six time the rate of the general population, there may be some ​not on the shielding list who choose to shield, but who will not qualify for support. ​It is unacceptable that not everyone with a learning disability is prioritised for the COVID vaccine, despite being more likely to die avoidably and die younger even before the crisis. This must change - ​all people with a learning disability must be prioritised for the vaccine.”

Read the Government’s latest shielding guidance (published today) online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

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For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).         

Notes to editors:   

About Mencap     

There are approximately 1.5 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: www.mencap.org.uk.    

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, 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;    
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • 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.