Disabled people say that government plans to remove a key mobility-based disability benefit from residents of care homes will tear away their “last shred of independence”.
George Osborne, the chancellor, announced in this month’s spending review that disabled people living in residential homes – unless they fund their own care –will no longer be able to claim the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from 2012-13.
But anger among disabled people at Osborne’s announcement has continued to mount this week.
Alan Doyle, who is tetraplegic, lives in a care home in the West Midlands where the nearest bus service is two miles away, and uses his DLA to pay for adapted taxis to visit his wife at their home, and to go shopping.
He contacted Disability News Service to highlight how the move will affect him.
Apart from his DLA, he only receives a £20 a week “pocket money allowance”, so the DLA cut would prevent him visiting his wife, while he and others in similar situations would be barred from enjoying leisure trips, meeting friends and socialising in the local community.
He added: “In other words, we will be confined to the four walls of the care home with £20 ‘pocket money’ to cover clothing, toiletries and the cost of a telephone and in my case a broadband connection coming under serious consideration.
“It’s clear that the coalition definition of ‘fairness’ and ‘dignity’ and being part of ‘The Big Society’ regardless of your political belief is not extended to disabled members of our ‘civilised society’.”
Disabled campaigner Kaliye Franklin, who blogs on the site Benefit Scrounging Scum, told BBC Radio Leeds that disabled people living in care homes would be “facing looking at all four walls and nothing else all day every day”.
She pointed out that many people use their DLA to buy powered wheelchairs, so removing the benefit could mean “confining people not just to their rooms but to their beds”.
Another blogger, “Incurable Hippie”, said on the site Where’s The Benefit? that the idea of withdrawing the DLA mobility component was “disgusting”.
She said: “The thought that just because somebody was living in a care home, they no longer need to go anywhere, they no longer need mobility equipment, is just obscene.”
And “Meri”, on The Broken of Britain, a site set up to enable disabled people to speak out on disability rights issues, said the DLA move was “shameful” and “based on a stereotype that disabled people in homes have no sense or ability to get out”.
“Anu”, posting on the same site, said: “Those requiring residential care and support still need to be able to book taxis, or use their Motability wheelchairs or vehicles to visit the shops, attend appointments or visit family and friends.”
She added: “If the mobility component of DLA is removed from people who require residential care and support it will literally condemn them to not being able to leave the home.
“People already needing residential care and support will have their last shred of independence torn from them.”
28 October 2010