The 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.”