The government’s justification for cutting a vital benefit from disabled people in residential care is “a myth”, according to a coalition of charities.
The government claims removing the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from an estimated 80,000 people in residential care – announced in October’s spending review – is justified because of an “overlap of public funds”.
It says people in residential care should already have all their needs provided for through the support packages bought by local authorities, and so do not need the extra funds provided by the mobility component.
But a coalition of 27 voluntary organisations – including the National Centre for Independent Living, RADAR, Disability Alliance and the Learning Disability Coalition – says new evidence they have collected destroys this argument.
In a new report, Don’t Limit Mobility – endorsed by social services directors and sent to MPs – the coalition warns that going ahead with the plan would “significantly restrict the ability of those in residential care to play an active role in their local community, be independent and maintain relationships with family and friends”.
According to its research, councils usually provide just “basic care” and do not factor in “the costs of individuals’ personal mobility or transport costs associated with visiting friends and family, going shopping or accessing local community and leisure facilities”.
A survey of 22 social care providers found not one of them received a council contribution towards the costs of such personal transport needs.
And in another survey for the report, all 100 disabled care home residents who took part said they needed their mobility component to “get out and about”.
More than 80 per cent who answered the question said cutting the mobility component would mean they would see much less of their friends and family.
Steven Colley, a care home resident from Essex, who uses his DLA to pay for a car through the Motability scheme, said: “I have freedom because of my mobility car to do what other people can do.”
The report says its new evidence proves councils are not meeting the mobility costs of people in residential care, despite the government’s claims.
Removing the mobility component, it says, would “simply transfer costs to already-stretched local authorities or will leave people without the vital support that they need”.
Without their DLA, the report says, many disabled people would be left with just £22 a week to cover all their personal costs, which would not be enough to meet their mobility needs.
13 January 2011