Charities have rebuffed the government’s key justification for cutting up to £50 a week in mobility benefits for disabled care home residents and have called for the policy to be scrapped.
The payment will be withdrawn in October 2012 after ministers claimed publicly-funded residents already received council funding for mobility in their care packages.
But in a report today endorsed by council leaders, a coalition of 27 charities and disability organisations said this contention was false.
A survey of 22 care home providers found half received no contribution from councils towards the costs of transport, while those that did were funded only for travel costs deemed necessary to meet residents’ assessed care needs.
None was funded to provide personal transport for residents, for which the DLA mobility component is used. A separate survey of 100 care home residents found that all used their mobility component to pay for transport and petrol or mobility aids to visit friends or go to college and for leisure activities.
Mencap, Scope, the Disability Alliance, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Carers UK and Mind were among the 27 organisations that called on ministers to reverse the policy.
“This report shows that the government’s reason for cutting this funding is simply wrong,” said Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap.
“Care homes and local authorities don’t cover these costs and, with budgets being squeezed, how can they be expected to in the future? We strongly urge the government to reconsider the proposal to remove the mobility component of DLA.
“This money helps people living in residential care receive the personal support they need to get out and take part in activities they enjoy and live a fulfilled life.
“Removing this benefit will take us back to the dark ages, essentially stripping people of control over their lives and leaving them stuck in residential care homes.”
The report comes ahead of a three-day online campaign against the government’s cuts to disability benefits – particularly its plan to replace DLA with a new personal independence payment, removing eligibility from an estimated 20% of existing claimants.
Through its One Month Before Heartbreak campaign, which takes place one month before the end of the consultation on the DLA changes, the Broken of Britain campaign is calling on people to post blogs opposing the changes.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The government is committed to protecting DLA for the future and ensuring that the £12bn spent on it every year goes where it is needed the most.
“We know that there can be varying levels of support in care homes and we will be working with disability organisations about this change to ensure that disabled people have their mobility needs met.”
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