Susannah (susannahf) wrote,

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Plea for help

I don’t often do this, but right now I think something Very Wrong is about to happen, and that there is still a chance to stop it, so I have to try.

I guess most people reading this are aware that I have a brother, and that he’s severely disabled. He needs one-to-one nursing care 24/7, and lives partly at home with my parents, and partly in a small (4-bed) residential care/nursing home. We put in a lot of time and effort to give him the best quality of life we can, but it’s hard. Budgets are always under threat, things often do not go smoothly.

Things could be about to get a whole lot less smooth. Hidden in the Comprehensive Spending Review is a nasty little surprise for some of the most vulnerable people in society. Higher rate mobility DLA (disability living allowance) will be removed from people living in residential care from 2012. That includes my brother.

I’m guessing a lot of you don’t know a whole lot about DLA. Firstly, what it’s not. It’s not Incapacity Benefit. You can get DLA if you’re working. But many people with DLA don’t work, because they can’t. If you want an idea of how disabled you need to be, have a look at the eligibility criteria. DLA is meant to defray the additional costs of simply being disabled. In the case of the mobility component (which is what’s under threat), it can be used to pay for a Motability or private adapted vehicle, taxi fares (typically in black cabs or adapted vehicles which are more expensive than normal cabs), or to buy a wheelchair that gives more freedom (such as a powered chair). Receipt of higher rate mobility DLA also entitles you to a Disabled Person’s Railcard (I don’t know if this eligibility will actually also be removed with the cut, but it’s not uncommon for this type of follow-through cut to occur). Without these aids, a person may be effectively housebound, or may have their ability to access services and facilities severely decreased.

My brother’s higher rate mobility DLA is used to pay for his adapted van (privately owned). It pays for things like the insurance (high, because insurers don’t like non-standard vehicles, and it has to cover all drivers, so that his care provider isn’t limited to a small pool of drivers), the petrol, and saving for a new van when this one dies. He uses it to access leisure services, attend hospital appointments, travel between his two “homes”, and even occasionally go on holiday. The two ladies that live with him also get higher rate mobility, and have vans to do similar things (most vans can only hold 1 chair, and they don’t always want to be at the same places...)

What will happen if all three of them lose this (which they will if this cut goes ahead)? Their care provider won’t get any extra money to provide transport. So either they will be severely curtailed in their mobility, or the money will have to come from somewhere else, like paying for enough qualified carers, or equipment that assists with their care. Budgets are already tight, and are only going to get tighter - there’s no room to cut anything that isn’t needed.

The people who will be hit by this include some of the most vulnerable in society - people with complex medical needs, and those with severe learning difficulties (or both). It’s easy to cut services for people who are not well-equipped to fight for themselves.

Which is why I’m writing this post. This hasn’t gone through parliament yet. It can still be stopped. Please write to your MP and ask them to fight this. You can find out who your MP is and email them a personalised message at WriteToThem (please do this for preference), or you can join the Scope campaign here.

Additional resources:
Comprehensive Spending Review Document (Box 2.6, page 69)
Guardian article
Scope statement
Bendygirl’s Youtube video (if you only click on one of these, watch this)

Thanks for reading this.


tl;dr The government are about to arbitrarily remove an entire benefit that will significantly worsen the quality of life of some of the most vulnerable in society, including my brother. Please go here and email your MP about it. But it would be even better if you would write a personalised email.

ETA: please feel free to share / link to / repost this. The more people know about it, the better.
Tags: cuts, dla, plea, spending review
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