?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Update on the Plea

Thanks to all of you who responded to my plea for help.  If you haven't yet, there is still time.

A number of questions have been asked in the House about this, but only a few have been answered.  The response is pasted below:
From Hansard written answers, House of Commons, 2 Nov 2010
Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the number of users of Motability cars of the removal of the mobility component of the disability living allowance for people in residential care. [19513]

Maria Miller: It is estimated that around 8,000 users of the Motability scheme will be affected by the removal of the mobility component of disability living allowance for people already in receipt of state funding for some, or all of their care costs in the form of local authority care packages. The Department will be discussing the proposed measure with Motability to enable them to decide how best they can manage the impact of this change on their customers.
Local authority contracts with care homes should cover services to meet all a resident's assessed needs, including any assessed mobility needs, so an individual's care support and mobility needs should be met by residential care providers from social care funding. This measure will remove an overlap of public funds while ensuring that resources continue to be targeted at disabled people with the greatest needs.

Disability Living Allowance: Learning Disability
Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people resident in (a) England and (b) Easington constituency with a learning disability he estimates will be affected by proposals to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance for those who live in residential care homes; and if he will make a statement. [20980]

Maria Miller: Reliable estimates of main disabling condition, including learning disabilities, for disability living allowance claimants in residential care homes are not available. Reliable estimate of numbers of Disability Living Allowance claimants in residential care homes are not available other than on a Great Britain wide basis. We estimate approximately 60,000 people who claim DLA and live in residential care will be affected by this measure in Great Britain.
Local authority contracts with care homes should cover services to meet all a resident's assessed needs, including any assessed mobility needs, so an individual's care support and mobility needs should be met by residential care providers from social care funding. This measure will remove an overlap of public funds while ensuring that resources continue to be targeted at disabled people with the greatest needs.

Disability Living Allowance: Scotland
Miss Begg: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of households in (a) Aberdeen South constituency, (b) Aberdeen local authority area and (c) Scotland which will be affected by removing the mobility component of disability living allowance for people in residential care. [19352]

2 Nov 2010 : Column 790W
Maria Miller: Reliable estimates of disability living allowance claimants in residential care homes are not available other than on a Great Britain wide basis. We estimate approximately 60,000 people who claim DLA and live in residential care will be affected by this measure in Great Britain.
 

There has also been a speech in the Lords:
From Hansard, House of Lords, 1 Nov 2010

5.56 pm
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton: My Lords, I welcome this debate on the impact of the comprehensive spending review. For the benefit of new Members of the House, I should say that my noble friend Lady Wilkins will assist me when I run out of breath, as agreed by the usual channels.

1 Nov 2010 : Column 1467

There is so much to debate, so I have decided to speak to one area only: where disabled people are being asked to pay a price that far outstrips the potential saving to the Exchequer. I know that my noble friend Lord Low will later cover other new financial policies that will affect for good or bad the lives of disabled people. Let me be clear from the outset that I do not deny the need to address the deficit in part through cuts in public spending. It is in everyone's interests, including society's poorest and most disabled, that the books balance. However, to face reality, we must understand reality. Doing so requires us to recognise the full implications of cuts to people in their everyday lives. Only then can we make sensible choices, not just for the individuals who are directly affected but in the public interest.

That is why I have decided to concentrate today on what some may think is a small and insignificant cut to independent living services for disabled people but which has the most disproportionately devastating consequences for their lives. First, before I say what it is, I declare an interest as someone who receives public care and support services targeted by the CSR. I am also a trustee of the National Centre for Independent Living and chair of the Government's Right to Control advisory group. In fact, I often give expert advice to the Minister on disability matters.

A Government proposal under the heading "Welfare Reform" is to,

"remove the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance for people in residential care, where such costs are"-
supposedly-

"already met from public funds, saving £135 million by 2014-15".
To claim DLA, you must be under 65 at the time of the claim. The Government estimate that this cut will affect 58,000 disabled young people and working-age adults.

This proposal is seriously flawed for four reasons. First, it will have negative and costly effects on disabled people's health and well-being, their ability to develop social and community networks and their capacity to move on from residential care to be, as the Government want, independent, participating citizens, not dependants. Secondly, it conflicts with the Government's policies for personalisation, independent living and encouraging disabled people to gain or retain employment. Thirdly, it is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of modern residential care and the potential of disabled people living there. Fourthly, it is incompatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I am sure we all agree that people living in care homes today are full citizens. We should therefore expect and want them to exercise their human and civil rights and to contribute to civil society like everyone else. Residential care homes are no longer, or should not be, places to hide people away in or to deny them opportunities the rest of us take for granted: independence, choice, access to public life and maybe, for those who can, eventually the possibility of work and independence. Residential care homes are not intended to be prisons. We all enjoy activities outside our homes. It should be no different for those living in residential care homes.

1 Nov 2010 : Column 1468

At this point, Baroness Wilkins continued the speech for Baroness Campbell of Surbiton.

Since the CSR announcement on this DLA saving, disability organisations have been receiving alarmed calls from people desperate at the prospect of losing this entitlement to hard-won independence. Last week RADAR heard from Patricia King. Her son and daughter-in-law are both disabled and live in residential care. Without the mobility component, they will no longer be able to visit the doctor, dentist, bank, church, library or shops, let alone relatives and friends. The proposed changes will remove over 45 per cent of her son's total allowances and over 69 per cent of his wife's. Neither the local authority nor the care home is in a financial position to offer free transport as part of its service to the residents. Patricia King, rightly in my view, calls this a cruel cut. She says:

"Some politicians are accepting a 5% cut, but would they accept a 45% or 69% cut to the money that buys them their personal freedoms?".

The DWP argues that the measure would bring care-home residents into line with hospital in-patients, who lose access to the benefit on the same basis. However, the comparison is false. People of working age living in care homes are not in the same position as patients in hospital. In hospital, you are sick and therefore do not need an allowance to go out. Residential care is disabled people's home and the base from which they go out to engage in education, training, work, leisure, travel, family and social contact. For many, it is a stepping stone to living independently in the community. Noble Lords may know that care-home residents must surrender almost all their income to support the cost of their care. They are allowed to retain only about £22 a week for personal expenses, so a basic mobility scooter-a mobility aid often bought with DLA finance-costing about £1,500 is out of reach without the DLA mobility component of £49.85 a week. Removing that component takes away over two-thirds of the care-home resident's income. It makes Britain's most severely disabled people the group who lose most from the CSR; it literally removes their mobility.

At this point, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton resumed.

Could this House consider, even for a moment, denying me my electric wheelchair or the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, his scooter? I am sure noble Lords would be outraged and would defend our right to contribute to the work of the House. I do not accept that the national finances are such that we should now deny people living in care homes the same rights. To be clear, the DLA mobility component helps residents to maintain contact with families and friends, access the big society as a volunteer, participate in leisure and fitness activities and be active members of their local community. Such activities promote physical and mental well-being. They help to sustain one's sense of identity and prevent the loss of confidence and the low morale often associated with depression. The proposed modest savings in DLA are likely to be outweighed by increased demands on the NHS and the costs linked to preventing severely disabled people joining society. It makes neither moral nor financial sense.

1 Nov 2010 : Column 1469

I am deeply concerned that this cut in spending was not subject to a disability, equality and human rights impact assessment, that it was not discussed with those of us who have had years of experience of advising Governments on disability matters, and that the Treasury failed to run it by its own expert department, the Office for Disability Issues, which found out about the policy on the morning of the CSR announcement. I hope the Minister will explain that to me.

The big fair society can be achieved only if support structures are there to enable disabled people to play their part. Otherwise, we will go back to a time when most disabled people were caught in a culture of dependency with no alternative but to beg for charity or to be jolly grateful for what they got. This fills me with dread. I am sorry that if this debate continues beyond 10 o'clock, I will not be here or, if I am, I will be bedding down on the Back Bench. I have to be home as my CSR-dependent support service dictates my moves. Please think again on this very small cut that illustrates where we are heading.
 

There is support out there, but the government is still not listening.

ETA: by the way, the minister is just plain wrong.  There is no "overlap of public funds" that I've ever seen.  If my brother's funding really is meant to cover his mobility needs, then it has either been mis-assessed (e.g. by saying "well, you have a vehicle/higher rate mobility, so you don't need that money"), or it is so woefully inadequate in other areas that his mobility funding is being used for something frivolous, like nurses, or keeping his house clean enough that he won't get some horrible (and potentially fatal) infection.  Certainly there is no magic pot of money that isn't being used.
I have emailed the Baroness to tell her what a wonderful speech she made.  I have also emailed the minister to point out the inaccuracies in her response.  I would be surprised if she even reads my email, and I doubt she will pay any attention, but at least I have tried.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Nov. 4th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks to all who have contacted their MPs or spread the word in any other way.
The so called 'overlap' assumes that social services allowed for transport in their assessments. They haven't, partly because they want to keep costs to a minimum but also because they've been able to use the existence of Mobility Allowance to refuse to provide funding for transport. Our own Local Authority, a week after the Spending Review, decided to close down the 'Dial a Ride' disabled bus - as part of it's own cuts. No money + no bus = house arrest.
johnckirk
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
Thanks for the reminder - I've just sent a letter to my MP about this. I agree with you that the Baroness made an excellent speech, and hopefully her views will carry some weight.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com