Dan Parton cutThe outcome of Thursday’s general election will shape the future direction of learning disability services for the next five years, so it is crucial those with learning disabilities have their say.

With less than a day until the polling stations open, and party leaders frantically criss-crossing the country trying to secure extra votes, it is time to think about a group in society that have been largely forgotten in this election campaign – people with learning disabilities.

It was disappointing to see that none of the party manifestos even mentioned learning disabilities. Despite many warm words in recent times – and such things as parliamentary candidates appearing at hustings events organised by people with learning disabilities or the organisations that support them – it appears that people with learning disabilities are still a long way down the political agenda for all parties.

Given that there are about one million adults with a learning disability in the UK, that’s a substantial part of the electorate to have been ignored. Even more when you consider their families, carers and the professionals who work with them – that adds up to millions of voters.

But this lack of attention means that it is more important than ever for people with learning disabilities to get out and vote tomorrow. 

The work of campaigns by charities including Mencap, Dimensions and United Response in recent months to increase people with learning disabilities’ awareness of and engagement with politics – and the mechanics of how to vote – should ensure a higher turnout from this group than in previous elections, which can only be a good thing.

It is crucially important this happens. People with learning disabilities are arguably one of the groups affected most by political decisions – certainly in relation to such things as welfare benefits, health and social care services and housing – so they need to have their say on the future direction of the country as it will likely have a big impact on them.

No matter which political persuasion has, voting is important. If political parties see that people with learning disabilities are voting in large numbers, they will see they cannot be ignored and pay more attention to the issues that affect them.

So: everyone who can, go and vote: people with learning disabilities’ – and everyone else’s – future depends on the decisions made at the polling station.

Easy read versions of all the main parties’ manifestos are available. Read more on this here