MPs have attacked the government’s “crude, cruel” plans to remove a key disability benefit from most disabled people in residential homes.
The Labour MP Tom Clarke said the “outrageous” decision to stop council-funded residents claiming the mobility component of DLA – due to come into force in October 2012 – had caused “uproar” among disabled people in his constituency in north Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Clarke, who secured the debate among MPs about the proposal, said he had visited a number of residential homes, and their residents were “terrified” about the cut.
He said there was “not a shred of evidence” that councils would be able to “pick up the bill” – as the government has claimed – if the money was removed.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said he was concerned that the government could follow this “nasty and horrible” cut with “something much bigger”, by removing the mobility component from all disabled people.
The disabled Conservative MP Robert Halfon said many disabled people in his constituency were “genuinely anxious about the future”, but he claimed that councils would have a “legal obligation” to fill the gap left by the cut.
He added: “That funding will increasingly be distributed in the form of personal budgets, giving disabled people more choice and control over their services, including access to mobility equipment, taxis or scooters, if that suits them.”
But the Labour MP Kate Green said there was a “very real risk” that the cut could mean disabled people losing their Motability cars.
Margaret Curran, the Labour shadow work and pensions minister, said her party could not support the “crude, cruel cut”, which undermined the principle of personalised support.
She asked why, if mobility needs were already funded by councils – as the government claimed – there was “so little mention of it in existing community care plans”.
She said it was “a callous cut” for which the government would be “held to account for many years”.
Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, claimed the cut was “designed not to reduce the mobility of disabled people, but to address the current complexities in the system”.
She said some people in residential care “receive DLA cash directly for their mobility needs, and at the same time they receive varying levels of mobility support at local level from care services, funded by their local authority”, while some care homes “provide excellent mobility support” and others offer “only basic provision”.
She said there were “mismatched systems for assessing the needs of disabled people: one for DLA, which assesses mobility and need in terms of cash; and another that provides, via local authorities, a more generic needs assessment reflected in services contracted with care homes”.
1 December 2010