The government has refused to say how it will fund its decision to abandon plans to remove a key mobility benefit from disabled people in residential care.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the move – announced today by the Conservative minister for disabled people, Maria Miller – would be funded through other measures in its welfare reform bill.
The plan to remove the mobility component of the personal independence payment (PIP) – the planned replacement for disability living allowance (DLA) – from 78,000 people in state-funded residential care was one of the most controversial of the coalition’s package of welfare reforms.
But disability organisations now fear the £160 million the government hoped to save by introducing the mobility component measure will come from other cuts to spending on disability benefits, with DLA or PIP again particularly at risk.
Neil Coyle, director of policy for Disability Alliance (DA), said: “It is still a cut somewhere, even if 78,000 disabled people may now breathe a sigh of relief. It could mean further cuts for more disabled people somewhere else.”
DA has estimated that the government could fill the £160 million gap by removing funding from 157,000 people currently receiving the lower rate care component of DLA, which Coyle said would “fit with the government rhetoric on targeting PIP at disabled people with the highest needs”.
Anne McGuire, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said she was also concerned about how the government would fill the funding gap.
She said: “We would now want to press the government to clarify how they are going to fund this important reverse on this particular proposal. It cannot be to the further detriment of disabled people.”
The DWP would only say that the measure would be funded “through our wider welfare reforms”.
1 December 2011