Today, the Department of Health and Social Care published its 2020 Adult Social Care Winter Plan.

Mencap welcomes the plan but raises concerns about the proposed restrictions on family visits and calls for more funding to stabilise the sector.

Jackie O’Sullivan, Executive Director of Communications, Advocacy and Activism at the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

“Making life-saving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) free for the social care sector is very welcome and much-needed. This will help people with a learning disability and their care workers stay safe as we weather the storm of this ongoing crisis and the winter months.  

“Continued restrictions on family visits are deeply concerning and will be detrimental to people’s wellbeing. People with a learning disability were seven times more likely to feel lonely than the general population before coronavirus – this has hit unprecedented levels during the pandemic. Rather than a blanket ban or unreasonable regulations for visits, the Government and PHE Directors must support social care providers to enable safe contact to prevent a loneliness epidemic. 

“The boost to the Infection Control Fund, although very welcome, must not be a substitute for a decent settlement for social care in the forthcoming spending review. The social care sector was on its knees before the coronavirus pandemic and increasing support needs and the soaring costs of delivering care during the pandemic means providers are struggling to make ends meet. The spending review must also include an emergency cash injection for day support services which currently face an uncertain future. These services are crucial to meeting increased support needs and reducing isolation during the pandemic and more must be done to help them retain staff and meet demand for support.

“Without additional funding to stabilise the sector, the social care sector could have stocks of PPE but no care workers to use them.” 

Read the full plan online here:

-  Ends –

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


Notes to editors:

1. Mencap is calling for:

  • a clear plan for supporting the whole care market, including services for work-aged disabled adults which currently make up over half of the total social care budget
  • additional funding to meet current demand for support and stabilise the sector
  • a road map towards the Government's plans for social care reform, including a long-term funding solution, fairer access to services and support and workforce reform
  • Social care reform and long-term funding must cover a range of services and support that people with a learning disability need beyond personal care to enable them to lead independent and fulfilling lives in their community.

2. The social care sector needed an £8 billion investment in social care in England is needed to restore adequate levels of quality and access to what it was a decade ago, according to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee report. While the Association of Directors of Adults Social Services’ latest Budget Survey revealed that there is a growing hole in local authorities budgets for services supporting people with a learning disability – up to £200m in 2020/21 from £180m in 2019/20.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to local councils in England facing at least a £6.6bn increase in social care costs up to the end of September, according to the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adults Social Services

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.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-6pm, 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;
  • 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.