The RNIB is calling on visually impaired people to tell ministers about the importance of attendance allowance (AA) to them, as part of a campaign against government plans to effectively scrap the benefit.
Last month’s adult social care green paper included plans to transfer funding from AA to social care budgets to help meet the personal care costs of all those in need, sparking concerns from charities that current recipients would lose out.
Steve Winyard, the RNIB’s head of campaigns, said the charity aimed to produce a major report highlighting the importance of AA. It is also calling on visually impaired people to contribute their views to the consultation on the green paper.
Thousands could be excluded
AA is currently received by more than 53,000 blind and partially sighted people, but the RNIB warned many of them would be “excluded altogether” from funding if AA became part of the social care “kitty”.
Winyard said the RNIB would communicate with local societies for blind and partially sighted people to drum up contributions to the debate from individuals receiving AA.
The RNIB will use findings to lobby national government while encouraging local societies to highlight AA’s importance to MPs.
‘Beautiful example of individual budget’
Winyard said AA was a “beautiful example of an individual budget”, in giving recipients total flexibility over its use, and should not be abolished to help fund a new social care system for England.
“We think there’s a very strong case for it [social care] to be funded from general taxation,” he said. “The government is trying to close off that option but it’s our preferred option – social care should be just as much of a right as health care.”
RNIB could join with other charities
Winyard said it was too early to tell if the government would back down over AA, and said the RNIB could team up with other charities to fight the proposals.
Age Concern and Help the Aged said it did not plan to launch any specific campaigning on the issue at this stage, but repeated its earlier position that AA should be protected.
The consultation on the green paper closes on 13 November.
Social care leaders’ verdicts on the adult care green paper