Right to Control is ‘a leap forward’ for disabled people


Campaigners have hailed a government programme that would give disabled people in England control over the funding they receive from the state as a “leap forward” for disability rights.
They were speaking at the launch of a consultation on Right to Control, which will put funds from programmes such as access to work, the independent living funds and disabled students’ allowances into individual budgets, for disabled people to use as they wish. The welfare reform bill includes legislation to allow this to happen.
Right to Control will be piloted by a small number of “trailblazing” councils following the consultation, before a decision is made on whether to implement the policy nationally.
Liz Sayce, chief executive of the disability network RADAR, said Right to Control was “a really important leap forward” and about “being able to draw down the support you need when you need it”.
Baroness (Jane) Campbell, who chairs the government’s Right to Control advisory group, said it was a “passport to active citizenship for disabled people”.
She added: “Being in control of your life gives you freedom to make choices and make plans for a productive life.”
She said disabled people had been “fighting for this degree of control all of our lives” and its introduction was “a milestone on our journey for disability rights and emancipation”.
But she said details in the welfare reform bill of how Right to Control would work were not yet perfect.
Yvette Cooper, the new secretary of state for work and pensions, told the launch event: “The principle of Right to Control is not just about disabled people, it is about the way in which government should be giving power to individuals over their own lives.”
Jonathan Shaw, the minister for disabled people, said the “shift in power” and the “transformation from the state to the individual” would mean a “change in culture” for those commissioning services.
The audience of disabled campaigners made several suggestions for how Right to Control should work, including the need for good quality information, flexibility, a coherent national strategy on advice and advocacy, and attention paid to the problems faced by disabled people in rural areas.
Lorraine Gradwell, chief executive of Breakthrough UK and a member of the advisory group, said the programme would provide a “big challenge” to service providers, as they would have to deal with individual disabled people rather than block council contracts.
And she said disabled people will need to “stretch and test the parameters of Right to Control” to make it work.
The consultation ends on 30 September. For more information, visit www.odi.gov.uk/right-to-control or call 020 7449 5093.

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