New Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to give greater priority to the rights of people with learning disabilities than ever before by a learning disability charity.
Mencap wants to see learning disability issues placed higher on the political agenda, and is calling for:
• No further cuts to welfare or social care and a commitment to address the growing funding crisis in social care
• A renewed commitment to halving the disability employment gap
• Commitment to tackle health inequalities faced by people with a learning disability in the NHS.
Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said: “The new Prime Minister has talked of a government ‘for all of the people and all of the country,’ this must include people with a learning disability who continue to suffer from inadequate healthcare, low employment levels, hate crime and cuts to their care and benefits.
“We want the new Prime Minister to ensure the lives of people with a learning disability are valued, respected and improved. The social care and benefit cuts we’ve already seen have had a profound impact on people with a learning disability and have pushed many to the margins of our society. Any further cuts could mean even lower levels of employment, poorer standards of healthcare and higher levels of poverty.
“As a minimum, we want no further cuts to be imposed and a commitment to address the growing funding crisis in social care. The new Prime Minister must also urgently address the national scandal that poor healthcare is leading to the avoidable deaths of 1,200 people with a learning every year in our NHS.
“She must also finally show real action on driving forward the government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap. Eight out of 10 working age people with a learning disability have a mild or moderate learning disability and could work, but less than 2 in 10 are in employment. As it stands, very little progress has been made since the commitment was outlined and plans are still yet to be published.”
Ismail Kaji, parliamentary affairs officer at Mencap and who has a learning disability, added: “Before the EU Referendum, things were already challenging for people with a learning disability, in regards to benefit cuts, social care cuts, lack of employment opportunities, health issues. My question is, what will Theresa May do to improve the lives of people with a learning disability in the UK?
“I’m concerned that the new Prime Minister could bring in further cuts. People with a learning disability have already faced so many cuts and many are struggling to make ends meet. If more money is taken away, I will have less money and I could fall in to debt. I’m worried how this will affect my job and mine and my family’s health and wellbeing.
“We need to see improvements in the NHS. Over 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably in the NHS every year because of bad healthcare. The treatment that people with a learning disability receive at the moment is not consistent. There needs more focus on improving health services and building a better understanding from doctors and nurses of how to treat people with a learning disability.
“Listening to the voices of people with a learning disability is the most important thing. I want the new Prime Minister to show us how she plans to tackle the disadvantage that so many people with a learning disability face.”