The government has abandoned its plans to axe the payment of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) to people in residential care homes.
In an interview with The Times, disability minister Maria Miller said the government will not go ahead with its plans, which were set to come into force in 2013, when DLA will be replaced by the personal independence payment. The mobility component provides support to help disabled people who live in residential care homes to get out independently by allowing them to meet some of the extra costs of accessing suitable transport or to purchase appropriate mobility aids.
The recent Low Review, chaired by Lord Low of Dalston CBE, an independent review into how the personal mobility needs of people living in state-funded residential care are met, found that removing the mobility component would lead to a loss of independence for disabled people. It also 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. The government’s move has been welcomed by learning disability charities, which have campaigned vociferously against the proposal.
Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “We applaud the government for listening to the thousands of disabled people who have raised this issue, and reversing the plan to scrap this vital benefit. This allowance is just so important for those who receive it – it can make the difference between being able to get out independently, and being trapped inside. “Lord Low’s recent review of the mobility component of disability living allowance showed very clearly that this benefit provides crucial support for people in residential care that is not being met from elsewhere. “Responsible government is about active engagement with those people most affected by proposals for legislation. We are delighted that they have chosen to listen to disabled people and make this change. We look forward to working positively with the government in future on other important proposals.”
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, added: “This is a positive example of the government listening to disabled people, who have been among the hardest hit by national and local authority budget cuts. “People with a disability are entitled to live full and independent lives, and disabled people, campaigners and disability organisations are working hard to ensure that the government continues to listen to and take into account the needs of disabled people when considering all further welfare reforms.”
Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the National Autistic Society, said: “We are delighted by disabilities minister Maria Miller’s announcement. The government has finally listened to the concerns of people with autism and other disabilities who would have suffered desperately as a result of the original proposals.”