Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Independent review into mobility component of DLA launched

An independent review into how the personal mobility needs of people living in state-funded residential care are met has been launched.

Disability charities Leonard Cheshire Disability and Mencap have asked Lord Low of Dalston CBE to chair the 12-week review, which aims to gather evidence from individuals living in state-funded residential care and their families, care providers and local authorities.  Its brief will include 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 call for evidence is open until midnight on Monday, October 10. 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. The Bill as it stands would give Government the power to stop paying the mobility component of the personal independence payment, which is set to replace disability living allowance, 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 in September.

Lord Low, a cross-bench peer and president of the disability alliance is chair of the review. The steering group includes: John Adams: general secretary of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group; Dr Peter Kenway, director of the New Policy Institute; Gary Vaux: head of advice (benefits and work) at Hertfordshire County Council; Wendy Tiffin: a care home resident who will be directly affected if mobility payments are removed and Pauline Bardon, mother of a disabled teenager who hopes to go to residential college in September 2012.

Lord Low said: “The proposed removal of mobility payments from people living in residential care potentially has a significant impact on the lives of disabled people and it is therefore vital that there is a public and comprehensive look at this issue. “I hope that the minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, will engage with the review, and I urge disabled people, providers and local authorities to take this opportunity to contribute publicly.”

Pauline Bardon 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 National Autistic Society (NAS) has welcomed the Low Review. Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the NAS, said; “We oppose the Government’s proposal to remove the mobility allowance from those living in residential care, which is based on an incorrect assumption that people in residential care always have alternative access to transport. In reality, the proposal will likely lead to a loss of independence for hundreds of people with autism and other disabilities. “The Low Review offers a key opportunity for the public to contribute to the debate on mobility allowance, and we urge the Government to use the expertise that the Low Review will bring to fully inform its decision on the future of this essential benefit, so that society’s most vulnerable can continue to live as independent and fulfilling lives as possible.”

 To find out more about the review and to submit evidence, click here:

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