Charities urge rethink on DLA mobility allowance cuts

Charities have urged a rethink On DLA mobility allowance cuts which would affect 80,000 disabled people, writes Sarah Ismail.

Sarah Ismail writes for the Same Difference blog

Today’s Times reports (£) that 27 charities, including the leading disability organisations Mencap and Leonard Cheshire, have written to Iain Duncan Smith and Andrew Lansley, urging the Government to reverse the decision to scrap the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance for people living in residential care homes. This was announced as part of George Osborne’s 2010 Spending Review.

The weekly payment, of up to £50 a week, is used to rent specially adapted cars, or to pay for powered wheelchairs, taxi fares or petrol for staff who drive for care home residents. The change will affect at least 80,000 disabled people.

Campaigners say that without the extra payments many children and adults will never be able to leave their care homes, as many of them are unable to use public transport as a direct result of their disabilities. Although residential care homes are required to provide transport for medical appointments or hospital visits, many use residents’ mobility allowances to pay for the use of their vehicles for these purposes.

Campaigners say those worst affected by the change will be disabled adults aged 20-50 who use the allowance to pay for transport to social outings.

However, the change will also affect disabled children and young people at residential special schools and colleges.  This may even stop parents sending their children to such organisations – which would deprive many disabled young people of an appropriate education.

One very concerned mother of a disabled young man told Left Foot Forward:

“For myself that would be the removal of my son’s wheelchair accessible vehicle as he attends a residential school Monday to Friday. How do they expect parents to cope at weekends and in the holidays?”

The charities also carried out a survey of care home users, of which more than half gave most or all of their DLA mobility component to their care homes. Of these, 40 per cent said that it paid for a Motability car and 20 per cent said that it paid for petrol for staff to take them out. The charities warn that the change, if it goes ahead, would significantly reduce the independence and quality of life of many disabled people.

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Mencap, summed up the fears of many disabled people and their families very well when he told The Times:

“Removing this benefit will take us back to the dark ages.”

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