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Welfare Reform Bill

10 March 2011

Welfare Reform Bill

Today, there is to be a second reading on the Welfare Reform Bill, which affects all manner of provision including Housing Benefit, Incapacity Benefit – now renamed the Employment Support Allowance – and the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

These changes will affect disabled people in a multitude of ways, particularly those who use residential care.

Part of the changes to DLA that the Government is making is scrapping the mobility payment component for disabled people who live in care homes, the higher rate of which is c. £50 per week. The Government sees living in a care home as the same as having a prolonged stay in a hospital, therefore not requiring any mobility assistance for transportation.

The mobility component of DLA can help towards paying for an adapted vehicle, or covering the cost of taxi fares for leisure trips, hospital visits or to attend college. Making independent living and residential care a balancing act that works for many.

However, from 2013 everyone on DLA will be reassessed for entitlement to the benefit in an effort to try to save money and cut the 0.5 per cent of fraudulent claims – a figure lower than the rate for office error or for pension and Child Benefit fraud. The new vision is one of PIPs ( Personal Independence Payments) In the process they plan to introduce new assessments and cut the budget and caseload by 20%.

With strong opposition from the disabled community rife there are serious implications for those currently in or considering a residential setting. For the former there is the daunting prospect of reassesment and catastrophic prospect of loss of independence. For the latter there is the question as to whether the setting can really meet their needs. Which begs the question is permanent support at home the only real alternative?

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