Following the recent Comprehensive Spending Review announcements, we have been in discussion with the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP.
We are pleased to learn that the government will not be including Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in the new universal credit system. We also welcome their continued commitment to recognise that DLA is provided to cover the additional costs of living with an impairment.
However, we have raised several serious concerns.
We are alarmed about the impact that the removal of the mobility component will have on those living in residential care. In particular, we are concerned about the loss of independence that is enjoyed by some of these residents. We are also very worried about the loss of opportunity for independent travel.
Jaspal Dhani, adds; “Our concerns are that through the result of losing independent mobility, that disabled people will lose the spontaneity to travel and organise their lives and will become dependent on group based travel organised by residential care homes. This echos the institutional practices of the 1980s.”
We have stressed to the Minister of the importance and need for Government to undertake full impact assessments on these policy decisions. This is in order to determine exactly what effects these measures will have on the lives of disabled people. We have been reassured that various government departments will be undertaking full impact assessments prior to finalising any decisions.
Furthermore, we want the Government to also carry out impact assessments on other mainstream policy decisions that will also directly affect the lives of disabled people. These new policies include the reduction in the number of affordable housing schemes and a cap on housing assistance rates. These issues are critical given that recent reports have suggested that over one million disabled people are living in unsuitable and or inaccessible housing.
We are also anxious that those moved on to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) are expected to move into employment within a period of 12 months, and will be penalised if they are unable to find employment within that time. We feel that this is deeply unfair and is based on a medical model assessment, and is likely to declare individuals as capable of work, when in fact they may not be. Whilst we fully support the government’s intentions to assist people into employment, we strongly feel this should be based on a social model approach.
We also remain alarmed about the cuts to funding to Local Authorities and how this will impact on the delivery of services such as the disabled facilities grants (DFGs).
Jaspal Dhani, UKDPC Chief Executive says; “We remain concerned at the impact the announced cuts will have on the ability of disabled people to live independently, to be included in their communities and to exercise their civil liberties. We look forward to working with the Minister for Disabled People to provide input and guidance which addresses these issues.”