The government's proposal to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) for people in residential care will hit an estimated 80,000 people, the Disability Alliance has claimed.
The group, which is made up of 27 organisations including Mencap, the PMLD Network and the National Autistic Society, has hit out at the proposals in a report called 'Don't Limit Mobility', saying the government's claim that the mobility component of DLA is an overlap of public funds is a "myth". The mobility component of DLA provides support to people who need help getting about, allowing many people to partake in community activities when, without it, they would be left in isolation.
The report claims that if people in care homes are left with just their £22 per week personal expense allowance, they will not have the funds to cover any additional mobility costs. It also claims that the removal of the mobility component is based on an assumption of 'double funding', despite the evidence that local authorities are not currently meeting mobility costs. Rather than removing an 'overlap of public funds,' as the government has claimed, the Disability Alliance claims this measure will simply be transferred to local authorities or cut the support.
Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive, said that the removal of the DLA mobility component would take away the control people have over their lives, leaving them stuck in care homes. "This report shows that the government's reason for cutting this funding is simply wrong. 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 get 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."
Graham Simmons, chief executive of Martha Trust, a charity that cares for people with profound physical and multiple learning disabilities in three residential homes in Kent and Sussex, also wants the government to scrap its plans. "The government is arguing that people's travel is already covered in the cost of their care package but this is not always the case. Many local authorities require service users to use their mobility component to fund their travel, and the overall fee is reduced accordingly." "This proposal will be hugely damaging to people's independence and their ability to access activities in the community. Do we really want to turn the clock back to a time when disabled people were kept out of sight and out of mind?"
'Don't Limit Mobility' can be downloaded from www.mencap.org.uk/dla