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Understanding the stalled welfare of citizens with learning disabilities

Marcus Redley, Cambridge University


Despite the United Kingdom's (UK) recent history of reforms promoting the social inclusion and equality of men and women with learning disabilities they remain a significantly disadvantaged group. Compared to their non-disabled peers they are more likely to be unemployed, less likely to own their own homes and are at a significantly greater risk of both physical and mental ill health. This paper seeks to explain this persistent inequality through an examination of the UK's labour market that effectively excludes adults with learning disabilities, and the UK's mixed welfare economy in which private and third sector organisations compete for Local Authority commissions. The first part of this paper discusses New Labour's welfare to work policies and the welfare rights of citizens with learning disabilities. The second part discusses the UK's mixed welfare economy and its impact upon services for men and women with learning disabilities. The paper concludes by considering whether the welfare of men and women with learning disabilities can be promoted solely through polices that emphasise inclusion through work and the personalisation of welfare services.

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