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Views wanted over mobility and care homes

DISABLED people and their families and carers have just one month to take part in an independent review into how the personal mobility needs of people living in state-funded residential care are met.

Leading disability charities Mencap and Leonard Cheshire Disability have asked Lord Low of Dalston to conduct the 12-week review, which aims to gather evidence from individuals living in state-funded residential care, their families and carers, local authorities and care providers.

The brief includes 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 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 the 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 later this month.

The planned measure has prompted strong opposition from many disabled people, their families and disability charities since it was announced in the comprehensive spending review in October 2010.

There is a widespread fear that removal of the benefit could leave 80,000 disabled people without the funds to meet extra transport costs such as maintaining a powered wheelchair or paying for accessible transport, leaving them trapped at home.

The review provides the opportunity for an independent, public and comprehensive examination of how people’s needs are currently met, how mobility support is currently funded, the requirements of providers and any concerns from parties involved in residential care.

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 public scrutiny of the issue.

“I hope that disabled people living in residential care and their families will take this opportunity to contribute publicly as they are the people that will be affected by the Government’s proposals. Understanding your experiences is crucial to us and this is your chance to get your voices publicly heard.”

Pauline Bardon, the mother of a disabled teenager who hopes to go to residential college, has accepted a position on the review’s steering group.

She 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.”

To find out more about the review and to submit evidence, visit: http://lowreview.org.uk

The call for evidence is open until midnight on Monday 10 October 2011.

 

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