People with learning disabilities in England

November 30, 2016

The new updated People with Learning Disabilities in England report has been published by the Learning Disabilities Observatory, part of Public Health England.

The report is a compendium of statistics about the lives of people with learning disabilities. It covers a wide range of information about population numbers, education, health and social care.

The Learning Disabilities Observatory (also known as Improving Health and Lives (IHaL)) was set up in April 2010 to provide high quality data and information about the health and healthcare of people with learning disabilities. The information helps commissioners and providers of health and social care to understand the needs of people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, and, ultimately, to deliver better healthcare.

According to the report, it is estimated that in England in 2015 there were 1,087,100 people with learning disabilities, including 930,400 adults.

It found that people with learning disabilities in England die much younger than the general population, this is 13 to 20 years younger for men with learning disabilities and 20 to 26 years younger for women with learning disabilities. However, as with the general population, the median age of death for people with learning disabilities is increasing.

Regarding health services, the number of people with learning disabilities in England eligible for and receiving a learning disability annual health check continues to rise (partly due to the minimum age extending to 14 years of age) with 124,785 health checks completed in 2014/15 (52.2% coverage).

Statistics for 2014/15 suggest that, with some exceptions (principally supported accommodation), social care services are being provided for fewer adults with learning disabilities compared to 2013/14, with accompanying reductions in spending.

The most common living situation for adults with learning disabilities getting long-term social care support was settled living with family/friends (44,785 people). 23,215 people were living in registered care homes, 23,075 people in supported accommodation, 12,425 people in tenancies with local authorities, housing associations or registered social landlords and 1,195 people in sheltered/extra care housing.

83,995 adults with learning disabilities aged 18 to 64 years were reported by local authorities to be using some form of self-directed support, most commonly a council-managed personal budget.

Regarding social services' gross current expenditure in 2014/15, for adults aged 18 to 64 years the biggest category of long-term support expenditure was residential care (£1.7bn), followed by supported living (£933m), other long-term community support (£613.2m), direct payments (£454m), homecare (£349m), supported accommodation (£274m) and nursing care (£58m). Compared to the £4.4bn in total spent on long-term support for working age adults with learning disabilities, £60m in total was spent on short-term support.

For adults with learning disabilities aged 65 years or more, £534m in total was spent on long-term support and £6m on short-term support.

The number of adults with learning disabilities in any paid/self employment has dropped from 9,905 people in 2011/12 to 7,430 people in 2014/15 (6% employment rate), with most people (71%) working fewer than 16 hours per week.

The report also covers data on education, benefits, safeguarding, deprivation of liberty and family carers. There is also a wealth of accompanying data tables.

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