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18 June 2019


To support people with a learning disability by using data and strategic legal tactics to hold public bodies to account.
Strengthening Civil Society

About the project

Social care can transform the lives of people with a learning disability but many people are not getting the care they have a right to. There has been an estimated £6.3 billion cut in real terms to adult social care funding since 2010 despite an ever-increasing need. The lack of legal aid for community care often means that public bodies can act unlawfully without challenge.

In 2019, we gave Mencap a grant over three years to use data and legal expertise to challenge unlawful decision-making and policy. This grant is one of eight we gave to legal organisations working as ‘hubs’ for legal action which will use the law at the centre of their campaigns for change.

Kari Gerstheimer

Head of Information & Advice, Mencap

“At Mencap we have seen how cuts to adult social care funding have made people with a learning disability increasingly vulnerable and isolated. Reduction of support is often unlawful, but cuts to legal aid mean that it is very difficult for people to challenge it.

This funding from the Baring Foundation is part of a three-part strategy we are developing with others in our sector to tackle this problem:

  • legal education for front-line care managers and advice professionals to help them identify legal issues and seek help
  • early legal help to challenge unlawful behaviour
  • using data and legal expertise to challenge unlawful decision-making and policy, which this grant will support.

This project will enable us to scale up and develop an existing pilot Legal Network which links non-legal learning disability organisations and local Mencaps with specially trained lawyers and a pro-bono barristers’ panel.

Over the course of the next few years, we will continue to increase the legal literacy and confidence of Network partners; aim to become increasingly sophisticated at analysing data from our and partners’ helpline and advice services to identify systemic and emerging issues; and develop a collaborative approach to strategic legal enforcement and challenge across the Network, as well as to campaigns, communications and policy advocacy.

It is a shocking statistic that only a quarter of people with a learning disability spend more than one hour outside the home a day. We want this work to ensure that people get the support they need to be able to live as full and as independent lives as they want.”

Participant feedback

“It has been a real pleasure working with you, the difference that you have made is huge not only to us and the family, but more importantly to N himself, being able to stay in his own home was his final wish which without your support may not of happened.”

(Feedback from a manager of a home which received support from a Mencap legal caseworker to challenge a decision made by the local authority on entitlement to care.)