People with learning disabilities and their families and carers have less than a month to submit evidence to Lord Low's independent review into how the personal mobility needs of people claiming disability living allowance (DLA) and living in state-funded residential care are met.
Disability charities Mencap and Leonard Cheshire Disability asked Lord Low of Dalston CBE to conduct the 12-week review, which aims to gather evidence from individuals living in state-funded residential care, their families and carers, local authorities and care providers. Lord Low's brief includes looking at how disabled people's needs are met, how they are funded and what responsibilities care home providers and local authorities have in relation to the mobility needs of residents. The findings from the review will be published in the autumn enabling peers to consider the evidence and the review's recommendations as they debate the Welfare Reform Bill.
As it stands, the Bill would give the Government the power to stop paying the mobility component of the personal independence payment, which is set to replace DLA, to thousands of people living in residential care. It has already passed through the House of Commons and is set to move to the House of Lords later this month. The planned measure has prompted strong opposition from many disabled people, their families and charities since it was announced in the comprehensive spending review in October 2010. There is a widespread fear that removal of the benefit could leave 80,000 disabled people without the funds to meet extra transport costs such as maintaining an electric wheelchair or paying for accessible transport, leaving them trapped at home.
Lord Low said: "I hope that disabled people living in residential care and their families across Britain will take this opportunity to contribute publicly as they are the people that will be affected by the Government's proposals. Understanding your experiences is crucial to us and this is your chance to get your voices publicly heard." Pauline Bardon, the mother of a disabled teenager who hopes to go to residential college, is a member of the review's steering group. She said: "The removal of this lifeline payment will have a devastating impact on my 18-year-old daughter Gabriella, who has Rett Syndrome, a neurological and developmental condition. Next year Gabriella is hoping to go to a residential college, but if she loses her mobility allowance she won't be able to get there or back again and in the college holidays will be housebound. This could take away her opportunity to continue her education and learn valuable life skills."
The call for evidence is open until midnight on Monday 10 October. To find out more about the review and to submit evidence, click here.