Lord Low of Dalston has called on the government to halt its plans to axe the payment of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) to disabled people in residential care.

If plans to axe the payment were to go ahead, Lord Low said it would be "a serious step backwards for disability rights." This warning came as the findings of Lord Low's independent review of DLA and personal mobility in state-funded residential care; 'Independence, Choice and Control' were published. The key findings of the review are:

  • DLA mobility component, or its successor under personal independence payment (PIP), should be retained. Its removal would lead to a loss of independence for disabled people
  • The report found no evidence of a duplication of funding in relation to the mobility needs being met by local authorities and those being met by DLA mobility
  • There needs to be greater clarity of local authorities' responsibilities for funding mobility needs and the role played by DLA mobility.

Lord Low also recommended that the Department of Health write to all local authorities drawing their attention to the revised Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide and emphasising the requirement for local authorities to meet all assessed mobility needs, and for equivalent action to be taken in Scotland and Wales. Disability charities Leonard Cheshire Disability and Mencap asked Lord Low to conduct the review, including gathering written evidence, oral evidence sessions, wider policy analysis and site visits.

Evidence from individuals living in state-funded residential care and their families, care providers and local authorities all went into the review. In all, the 12-week review received more than 800 submissions.

The Welfare Reform Bill currently gives Government the power to stop paying the mobility component of DLA/PIP to 78,000 people living in residential care. It has already passed through the House of Commons and is currently being debated in the House of Lords. "Everyone has mobility needs, but we know that many disabled people face additional costs or require support in meeting these needs," Lord Low said. "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 makes some important recommendations that should help ensure that disabled people are able to exercise their right to mobility in the same manner as non-disabled people."

Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive, welcomed the findings of the review: "The review makes it clear that the government should protect the mobility component of the DLA - or PIP as it will be known - and we are again calling for an amendment to be made to the Welfare Reform Bill which will ensure that this benefit remains in place for those 78,000 disabled people living in residential care."

For more information, and to read the full review, click here.