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DLA Mobility Component For Residential Care Users Will Not Be Scrapped!

November 29, 2011

Today’s Times reports great news:

Tens of thousands of disabled people in care homes have won a reprieve over planned benefit cuts after a high-profile campaign, The Times has learnt.

Maria Miller, Minister for the Disabled, will say this week that the Government is to reverse its decision to scrap the transport allowance for 80,000 people in residential homes.

Ms Miller told The Times that the Government originally chose to abolish the £51 a week mobility allowance given to those claiming disability benefits because some councils provided their own transport. But her own research has found that this provision is “patchy” at best.

Mr Osborne announced in last year’s spending review that the benefit, a component of the Disability Living Allowance, would be scrapped in April 2013, saving £160 million a year.

But disability groups argued forcefully that most people would be “imprisoned in care” if the allowance, which can be used to hire vehicles, take taxis or use public transport, was cut.

Many residents with disabilities use the allowance to share hire vans to visit their families, go shopping, get to hospital appointments or just to get out from their homes for a day. The campaign has been driven by groups including Scope, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap and Mind.

David Cameron was so concerned about the protest that he announced that the plan might be reviewed — but there was little sign then of a reversal.

Since then the Government’s own social security advisers have warned against the proposal and this month Lord Low of Dalston, a blind cross-bench peer, also wrote a report advising against the scheme.

However, the Government is still pressing ahead with radical reforms of the entire Disability Allowance, which goes to 3.2 million people and costs the taxpayer £12 billion a year. Mr Osborne has called for a 20 per cent saving in the budget by 2014-15. This will mainly be achieved by setting “face to face” tests with health professionals, which could result in far fewer claimants being eligible for the benefit.

Ms Miller said that the main aim of the welfare reforms in general was to make sure that money was targeted at those who needed it most.

“There was a theoretical overlap between local authority provision and the DLA mobility allowance,” she said. “But there were real concerns expressed by disabled and disabled people’s organisations which prompted me to say we would look at it again.”

Disability campaigners said that they were delighted at the Government’s change of heart, although they pointed out that the disabled will still be hit by the wider DLA changes.

“News that the Government is re-thinking its plans to scrap this payment will come as a huge relief,” said, Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope.

“However we are concerned that this relief could be short-lived. There are several other changes within the Welfare Reform Bill that could push disabled families, already struggling to make ends meet, over the edge.”

Moira Sloan, 55, who has been confined to a wheelchair for more than ten years, said that she and three friends at the Laverneo residential home in Pennywell, Sunderland, combine their mobility allowance of £51 a week to hire an adapted van so they can get out.

“We use the van for shopping, visiting family and friends and getting to hospital appointments,” said Mrs Sloan. Her friends, Elizabeth, Angela and Valerie, all joined her yesterday to have their hair done and to try to get tickets for The X Factor show when it comes to Sunderland in the spring.

“Without this van we would just be stranded in the care home all day which would be very boring,” said Mrs Sloan. “Both legs have gone and I can’t walk. I can use the van to visit my mum who is in a nursing home near by.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. *Stargazer permalink
    November 30, 2011 1:10 pm

    Fantastic news! A triumph for justice! Thank you for this post SameDifference1.
    I was very angry when the news first broke, that the DLA Mobility component was to be scrapped for disabled residential care claimants – most of whom are elderly.

    I felt it very unfair – the older generation saw off Hitler for us. I thought they would effectively be left “waiting to die” and expected to exist as bored, miserable, lonely people.
    To my mind it was more than insulting to them.
    There isn’t enough consideration made for this demographic.
    They are the forgotten ones, ignored, pushed past and tutted at mostly.
    Some people need to wake up and smell the coffee – we owe them BIG TIME!
    Has anyone taken the time, to talk to an older person, in a queue or on a bus?
    They have some enchanting and funny stories to tell.
    You just offer them a smile and show an interest, it’s all yours.
    Some of them do moan and complain – so keep it light – share a joke with them and get them to move away from that thorny topic? I miss my Nanna loads. She liked a moan but she also liked a laugh – we just had to get the balance right!!

    As for us under 55 years old – we need a bit more consideration too. Some of us used to work and pay tax and would dearly wish to get back to that world one day.
    But without a suitable home, competent and attentive doctors, pro-active social workers and the equipment and resources we need to live our lives with less pain and debility – just what hope do we have at all? I hope Maria Miller will have some real answers for us soon. I’m really fed up with this struggle – just to exist in a world that moves too fast, makes inadequate provisions and freaks us all out with their crazy ideas and decisions.

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