Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

“Once again we see evidence of disabled people being forgotten during the pandemic – when will the government take their important and urgent needs seriously? 

“Before COVID people with a learning disability already faced healthcare inequalities with 1,200 people dying avoidably each year. Extreme levels of social isolation also meant they were seven times more likely to feel lonely than the general population, and that was before the lockdowns of 2020. The social care system was also already on its knees and then in July a Mencap survey of family carers found that seven in ten (69%) people with a learning disability had their support cut during lockdown – just when they needed it the most. COVID has made a desperate situation even worse. 

“Despite 25 years passing since the Disability Discrimination Act, disabled people’s needs still aren’t prioritised. We must see change - starting with all COVID guidance including specific information to meet the needs of people with a disability .”

More details about the BBC's YouGov survey can be found here.

  Ends –  

For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Mencap’s media team on:

About Mencap

There are 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 helpline@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.