Learning disability in adults

Learning disability is defined as the presence of a significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, impaired intelligence, impaired social functioning, and has a lasting effect on development. It is difficult to provide an exact figure for learning disabilities for various reasons. The most significant of these are that the social construction of underlying concepts has changed over time, there is a wide spectrum of disorder, definitions are not standardised, and service utilisation research methodologies are common and so limit the population studied to those in touch with services.

People with a learning disability tend to have poorer health and often die younger than those who do not. This is a health inequality, since people with a learning disability should not have worse health than other people. 

Key findings for Lancashire-14

The following estimates are for 2017 and are from the Projecting Adult Needs and Service Information (PANSI) website. Further details are available in the data section below:

  • In Lancashire-12, 22,274 people (18+ years) are estimated to have a learning disability; for Blackburn with Darwen the figure is 2,569 and for Blackpool it is 2,596.
  • By 2035 these estimates are expected to rise to 23,386 (Lancashire-12), 2,590 (Blackburn with Darwen) and 2,599 (Blackpool).
  • Approximately 450 people (18+) in Lancashire-12, 55 people in Blackburn with Darwen and 52 people in Blackpool are estimated to have Down's syndrome.
  • Over 9,300 people (18+ years) have an autistic spectrum disorder in Lancashire-12. For Blackburn with Darwen the figure is 1,080 and 1,098 for Blackpool.

Priorities from the JSNA report for learning disabilities in adults

Our 2012 analysis of learning disabilities in adults in Lancashire-14 and their health needs provided strong evidence that there continues to be a poor health experience and early mortality of people with learning disabilities and autism. The key points were as follows.

  • Nearly half of people experiencing a learning disability live in the most deprived areas of Lancashire-14.
  • People with learning disabilities are much less likely to be in paid employment.
  • People with learning disabilities are over-represented in prison populations.
  • The changes to benefit allocation will also affect people with learning disabilities disproportionately.
  • Housing needs of people with learning disabilities are considerable and will increase.
  • People with learning disabilities experience much poorer health outcomes across a range of conditions.
  • Prevalence and need is increasing whilst available budgets have been decreasing and are likely to continue to decrease.
  • This has major implications for how services are delivered and will require a different approach to commissioning and developing co-produced services.

There is also a technical document to support this thematic JSNA, containing all the detailed analysis. If you require a copy of either document, please email businessintelligence.jsna@lancashire.gov.uk

Further data

Learning disabilities in Lancashire-14 2017 to 2035 (XLSX 44 KB)

Page updated October 2017 

Disability