Thousands more to face £50 a week disability benefit cut

An additional 20,000 disabled people in residential care are set to lose benefits worth up to £50 a week, according to revised government estimates.

In October, the government said it intended to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance from council-funded residents in care homes because their mobility needs were already accounted for in their care packages. At the time the Department for Work and Pensions estimated 60,000 people would be affected by the changes.

Responding to a parliamentary question yesterday Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, said the government now estimated that 80,000 would be affected.

She said: “Accurate estimates of the number of people who claim disability living allowance and live in residential care are difficult to produce because before 1998 there was no requirement to record entry or exit dates in to residential care.”

She said new information had come to light on those that entered residential care before 1998, causing the department to increase its estimate.

The proposal has been roundly criticised by disability charities and activists, who have warned that it will trap people in care homes and have rejected the claim that mobility costs are covered by councils.

Margaret Curran, Labour’s  shadow minister for disabled people, said: “I am deeply concerned that the government has since updated their forecasts on the number of people that will lose their benefit as a result of this change, and there are now very real worries amongst disability organisations that the government simply do not get it and are not on top of the real facts about who this cut will actually affect.”

Curran said the plans were not about welfare reform but rather about simply cutting the welfare bill.

The news came as Miller admitted that she did not know how many people would be affected by a wider overhaul of DLA, designed to help the government cut spending on the benefit by 20% for claimants of working age.

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