Today, the Supreme Court announced its judgment on the Royal Mencap Society V Tomlinson-Blake case on the payment of sleep-in shifts for support workers.  

Here is Mencap’s response to the Supreme Court’s judgment:  

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the Royal Mencap Society, said: 

Support workers within Mencap and across the sector do an exceptional job. They are dedicated in their care for people with a learning disability and should be paid more. They are care workers on the coronavirus front line and deserve better recognition in all forms. The Supreme Court in its judgment rightly recognises this. But we understand that many hard-working care workers will be disappointed by its ruling. 

“Mencap contested this case because of the devastating unfunded back pay liabilities facing providers across the sector. This was estimated at £400 million. Sleep-ins are a statutory care service which should be funded by Local Authorities, and ultimately Government. It is no exaggeration to say that if the ruling had been different, it would have severely impacted on a sector which is already underfunded and stretched to breaking point. Some providers would have gone bust and, ultimately, the people who rely on care would have suffered. 

“We believe that the legislation covering sleep-in payments is out of date and unfair and we call on Government to reform it. More widely, they should do a thorough and meaningful review of the social care workforce and put more money into the system so that we can pay our hardworking colleagues better. It is disappointing that there is still no plan for social care reform. 

“Today’s decision means that we can continue our important work which includes fighting for the rights of people with a learning disability, giving information and advice and promoting inclusion, as well as supporting people to live brilliant lives. 

“Until there is a more sustainable solution from Government, we plan to continue to pay top ups for sleep-ins, as we have done since 2017, and will urge Local Authorities to continue to cover this in their contracts.”   


For further information, pleasecontactMencap’smedia team on: 020 7696 5414(including out of hours).           

Notes to editors:   


There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.Mencapworks 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.Mencapsupports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they          

For advice and information about learning disability andMencapservices in your area, contactMencap’s FreephoneLearning Disability Helplineon 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or        

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 isNOTa 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 amild learning disability.