Removing mobility benefits for disabled people living in residential care would be “a serious step backwards for disability rights”, according to Lord Low’s review of the issue.
The Welfare Reform Bill has proposed the government stop paying mobility benefits to 78,000 people currently living in residential care. It has already passed through the House of Commons and is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
Low’s review, commissioned by disability charities Leonard Cheshire Disability and Mencap, concluded that the disability living allowance (DLA) mobility component, worth up to £50 per week, or its successor under personal independence payment (PIP), should be retained.
Lord Low said: “Everyone has mobility needs, but we know that many disabled people face additional costs or require support in meeting these needs. What people stressed to the review is how fundamental mobility is in securing other key rights. It enables people to participate in their community, gain an education and maintain a family life or work.”
The report found no evidence of duplication of funding in relation to the mobility needs being met by local authorities and those being met by DLA mobility. These needs are not met by council funding for residential care packages, which tend to fund mobility support to meet assessed care needs, such as travel to a day centre.
Low called for greater clarity of local authorities’ responsibilities for funding mobility needs and the role played by DLA mobility.
Evidence from individuals living in state-funded residential care and their families, care providers and local authorities all went into producing Lord Low’s review.
The review was created to in parallel with an internal government review of the Welfare Reform Bill proposal, which was due to come into force in October 2012 but is now on hold until at least 2013, when DLA will be replaced by the PIP.
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