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09th November 2015

Statistics in Improving Services for People with a Learning Disability

Mencap on their website tell us that less than 1 in 5 people with a learning disability  work (compared with 1 in 2 disabled people generally), while at least 65% of people with a learning disability want to work. Of those people with a learning disability that do work, most only work part time and are low paid. Children with a learning disability are often socially excluded and 8 out of 10 children with a learning disability are bullied. 1 in 2 families with a disabled child live in poverty. Clearly much needs to be done to improve the quality of life for people with a learning disability.


The Scottish Consortium for learning disabilities (SCLD) has been collating and publishing annual Learning Disability Scotland statistics (LDSS) over a number of years. These have been compiled from local authority information across Scotland. Over the period of the Scottish government's previous strategy for people with  learning disability (called 'Same as You')  up to 2011 there was an 80% decrease in long term hospital stays while  placements in care homes dropped by a third. These trends were accompanied by an increase in day care.

This year the statistics and methodology have achieved accreditation by the UK Statistics Authority regulatory body. This means that the information is assured to be as accurate as possible, and consistently produced year on year. It will also form part of the overall available National statistics.

The Keys to Life

It is hoped that information from these annual surveys will assist in taking forward and monitoring the progress on the government's current strategy on learning disability, the Keys to Life. The strategy focusses on improving health services, supporting independence, social inclusion, and employability. The LDSS statistics provide basic information on the numbers of people with learning disability in each area, on service uptake and demographics such as age, etc... They also are, and will be, a valuable tool to assess how each of the areas in the strategy are being taken forward. SCLD plan to release a time series to reliably show how changes are taking place year on year. This will be an invaluable guide to services and the commissioning of new services, as well as evidencing how well the strategy is being implemented across the country.

The organisation is planning to link these statistics to other health and social care statistics, and to build in qualitative information which will provide a more rounded and clearer picture. The commitment to supporting improvements in people's lives shown in this initiative is admirable, and will be useful to everyone concerned in taking the Government strategy forward.

Tony Clarke – QCS Expert Scottish Care Contributor

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