A disabled people’s organisation has described government plans to remove a benefit that supports inclusion in the community from disabled people in residential care as “really nasty” and “a blow against social inclusion”.
George Osborne, the chancellor, announced in this week’s spending review that disabled people living in residential homes – unless they self-fund their care – will no longer be able to claim the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from 2012-13.
Although people living in residential care – apart from self-funders – cannot currently claim the care element of DLA, they can claim the mobility component. And those receiving the higher rate mobility component can use it to obtain their own car through the Motability scheme.
The government said the cut would affect about 58,000 disabled people, who receive an average of £33.40 per week, and would save £135 million a year by 2014-15.
Together with planned cuts of 20 per cent to spending on DLA for working-age disabled people, announced in Osborne’s emergency budget in June, the new measure is likely to lead to a large reduction in the number of people able to benefit from the Motability scheme.
Anne Kane, policy manager for Inclusion London, said the measure was “really nasty” and would affect disabled people “right across the age spectrum” and not just older people.
She said: “This will intensify the isolation of people who are in institutional care. It’s just really horrible. It’s a blow against social inclusion.”
Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns for the disabled motorists’ charity Mobilise, said it would remove disabled people’s independence and force them to become “passive people who are just told what to do”.
She said the government’s plans to cut spending on DLA could lead to a huge reduction in the number of people able to obtain a vehicle through the Motability scheme.
Dolphin added: “For a lot of people, having a Motability vehicle allows them to take part in education, [allows them to access]healthcare and gives them the opportunity to go to work.
“If people can’t get that vehicle, the chances of getting employment are reduced.”
RADAR said it also had “significant concerns” about the measure.
And Anne Pridmore, chair of Being the Boss, a user-led organisation which supports disabled people who employ personal assistants, said: “To cut the mobility component from people in residential care – I have not got words to express what I feel about that.
“I am fast coming to realise that the majority of non-disabled people and these MPs do not realise the implications of the decisions they are making, and if they do, they do not care.”
21 October 2010