The prime minister and the leader of the opposition have debated whether a cut to a vital support for some of the most vulnerable in our society was indeed, a cut. Ed Miliband asked whether the coalition would consider reversing the decision to axe the Disability Living Allowance Mobility Payments for 83,000 claimants of the benefit living in care homes - as detailed in Part 4, clause 83 of the welfare reform bill.
A long, long time ago – well, in the House of Commons immediately before the budget anyway – the prime minister and the leader of the opposition were debating whether a cut to a vital support for some of the most vulnerable in our society was indeed, a cut.
Ed Miliband asked whether the coalition would consider reversing the decision to axe the Disability Living Allowance Mobility Payments for 83,000 claimants living in care homes – as detailed in Part 4, clause 83 of the welfare reform bill. The payments enable beneficiaries to attend medical appointments and visit their family.
In fact, it enables many to travel to and from their place of work, which you would think the government would approve of with its if-there’s-a-way-you-can-work-you-should-work philosophy.
But Mr Cameron insisted that support for travel was not being junked, only that how it is being delivered is being altered through the introduction of a new benefits regime for those on disability living allowance. He said:
“The review of disability living allowance and the mobility component is wrapped up in the new personal independence payment.”
However, the reform specifically states that the mobility component will be removed for those in care homes. Futhermore, those in care homes over the age of 16 will not be eligible for the personal independence payment. Chapter 2, clause 21 of the bill’s consultation document states:
“The benefit will cease to be paid for both [the care and mobility] components after the individual has been in hospital or care home for 28 days.”
Removal appears to be based on attempting to avoid ‘ double-counting’ – the notion that once in a care home, mobility needs are provided for by the council or the care home. However, according to 27 respected disability organisations this simply is not true. If mobility support is not specified in a care home contract, it’s not provided. And councils are only obliged to provide for care needs, not travel needs.
As this House of Commons briefing paper puts it:
“A recent report from 27 disability organisations finds little evidence that personal mobility needs are factored into care packages, and questions whether local authorities can ensure mobility needs are met given funding constraints.”
Cameron has already been shown up at Prime Ministers Question time, for not having a grip on how his government’s own health reforms with regard to how European Law will rip the NHS to pieces if the bill goes through.
The prime minister – or at least the government at large – needs to get its collective head around the mobility payments aspect of the welfare reform bill, before it wrecks the lives of thousands as well.
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