By Steve Scown, chief executive at Dimensions UK a learning disability support provider
Plans to change and improve systems would normally be fully welcomed. However, we have to strongly oppose the recent proposals made for cuts to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Yes, the system can be improved but these planned reforms will seriously impact on the quality of life for many. The proposal to take away the mobility element of the allowance is not going to improve anybody’s life. In fact, having listened to many of the people we support and their families, there is a real danger that people with disabilities will become prisoners in their own home.
It may sound dramatic but sometimes reality is just that. The allowance is essential, for many people living in residential homes. This cut to their income, combined with the reductions in basic funding we are beginning to experience, will leave many with no means to get out and about in the community. They won’t be able to afford to pay for transport and do the kind of things most of us take for granted such as attending appointments, visiting family and friends, or even something as basic as shopping for their own food.
This proposal to cut is made on the belief that local authorities are already meeting those travel costs but they aren’t; many stopped funding that years ago. Without this benefit, people are left with an average personal allowance of just £14 a week to pay for anything beyond their bed and board.
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The allowance has become a lifeline for many of the people we support and has afforded them greater freedom and independence. Without it, we will see hundreds of people deprived of their independence, which will have a negative impact on their opportunities, their choices and their self worth.
Dimensions UK is a specialist not-for-profit provider of support of people with learning disabilities and autism. Dimensions is one of the UK’s largest providers of support services, providing support for more than 2,500 young people and adults across England and South Wales. Many of the people Dimensions supports also have complex needs.