Today, the Department of Health and Social Care published its Health White Paper, outlining its proposals to bring health and care services closer together to improve care and tackle health inequalities.

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

“There are huge benefits to further integration between the NHS and the provision of social care. However, this reform will backfire unless the crisis in social care is addressed now. Social care has been treated as the poor relation to the healthcare system for too long, and it needs to be placed on an equal footing before we embark on any reform. 

“The recent pandemic has shown us all that the provision of social care is the lifeblood of our society, so it’s time the Government addressed the social care crisis and acts on the lessons learned from the pandemic. People with a learning disability are dying of COVID-19 at six times the rate of the general population. We welcome the focus on addressing health inequalities, but this will only be achieved when there is a commitment to a long-term sustainable funding solution so that people with a learning disability can get the support they need, and social care workers are properly rewarded and valued for the professional work they do. Let’s make 2021 the equivalent of the post-war 1948 moment – but for social care.  It would be a scandal to emerge from the pandemic and for little to have changed.”

For further information on the Government's Health White Paper visit:


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on:

Notes to editors

Mencap is calling for:

  • a clear plan for supporting the whole care market, including services for work-aged disabled adults which currently make up around 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.

The social care sector needs at least £7 billion investment a year in social care in England by 2023/24, according to the Health and Social Care Committee.

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 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.


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     

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.