votingThe political party manifestos have failed to mention people with learning disabilities, and a new poll of MPs show many “do not understand” the issues this group of people face, according to a service provider.

The Conservative and Labour Party manifestos contained no references to people with learning disabilities. The Green Party manifesto was similarly silent.

This comes as a poll of 100 MPs released today shows that more than 60% do not believe that people with learning disabilities can be supported into paid and productive employment, an attitude which contrasts sharply with the views of experts.

The poll, undertaken for not-for-profit support provider Dimensions, also found:

58% of the MPs feel that more emphasis should be placed on family support for people with learning disabilities to reduce reliance on paid care

Despite the scandal of Winterbourne View, and the lack of progress in getting people with learning disabilities out of such places, almost 1 in 3 (31%) of the MPs don’t see learning disability as a national election issue. Even fewer – about half – see it as an election issue in their local communities. This is despite the fact that more than a million people in the UK have a learning disability. When the families and carers of people with learning disabilities are taken into account, that is a sizeable portion of the electorate.

Very few people with learning disabilities voted in the last election. Prominent pro-voting campaigns run by Dimensions, Mencap and United Response could see the trend reversed in the next election – although disappointingly three quarters of MPs polled had not heard of these campaigns.  

Lisa Hopkins, director of practice development at Dimensions, said: “The poll exposes a deep lack of interest in learning disability amongst our political masters across both major parties. Many MPs just don’t understand learning disability. When our sector votes it will give them a real jolt.”