Should the Government Subsidise Mobility Aids for Those in Official Work Schemes?


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Posted by The Mobility Superstore:

It seems that the coalition’s attempts to cut the country’s massive debt levels are hitting some problems, and disabled people are right at the heart of this failure.

The two government schemes designed to get disabled people back into work have been unimaginatively named Work Choice and Work Programme, and it seems the success of both schemes has been about as eye-catching as their rather dreary-looking titles.

Of the disabled people registered on the government’s Work Choice programme so far, a paltry eight per cent found permanent work. Indeed, the Work Programme fared just as badly with only 1,000 of the 79,000 people claiming disability benefits finding meaningful work over the course of the scheme’s first year. So, the question needs to be asked: do disabled people need more practical help? Should mobility aids be subsidised by the government?

The Practical Realities of Disability
The government recently announced that a whopping £5 billion will be invested into the Work Programme alone over the next five years. However, much of this cash will go towards incentivising employers to offer employment for the long-term unemployed. However, that does not help a disabled person who can’t get to work because of ill-equipped public transport. If some disabled people are almost prisoners in their own home because of a lack of mobility aids, how on earth can they be expected to make it to work and back five times a week?

Perhaps this multi-billion pound budget could be stretched to include the purchase of motorised scooters, a move that could give people the chance to earn their own way in life, to pay their taxes. At around £600 for a basic model, such an investment is surely peanuts when compared to a lifetime of productive employment. In much the same way as the unemployed receive grants for suits, disabled people would benefit hugely from government funds for scooters and wheelchairs.

Disabled people have seemingly been targeted by the government as a demographic of British society that needs help to get back into employment. However, instead of providing practical help to make work feasible, they seem to be concentrating on providing hand-outs to companies – some of which will bend the rules for their own gain. Surely this is a situation where the needs of people need to be given priority over the needs of business.

The Financial Argument for Subsidising Mobility Products

As the famous proverb suggests, giving someone cash hand-outs will provide a temporary solution to financial hardship, but investing heavily in a long-term future will allow a disabled person to become fully self-sufficient. In fact, investment in a motorised scooter or other essential mobility products will allow that person to finally become a net contributor to society. The case for subsidising a disabled person’s re-entry into the labour market is based on solid fiscal logic.

Since the Work Programme’s inception, 9,500 former recipients of incapacity benefit have been referred, and only 20 of those have found employment that has lasted more than three months. Of course, help for disabled people or those with mobility issues should not start and finish with the purchase of a scooter. Office spaces need to be adapted, public transport needs to be improved and access to buildings needs to be modified. Disabled people don’t need help to excel in their jobs; they just need help getting there in the first place!

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