Mobility cuts to take disabled 'back to dark ages'

Government cuts to funds that help disabled people get around will take those hit "back to the dark ages", charities said today.

Plans to axe the mobility part of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for care home residents were announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn.

But the removal of the money is now under fire from a group of 27 organisations representing disabled people, who claim it is a myth that the benefit represents an overlap of public funds.

The Department for Work and Pensions said there may be scenarios where a resident is receiving the benefit to pay for taxis but their care home or local authority is at the same time providing them with transport.

A spokesman said: "We want to tackle the discrepancies in the system to make sure DLA is fair and continues to help the people who need it most."

But the disability groups argue the cuts will hit about 80,000 people and today submitted a report entitled Don't Limit Mobility to MPs and urged them to reconsider.

The document cites evidence from service providers and care home residents who will be affected by the change.

Its authors say that none of the national service providers that were surveyed for the report currently receive a contribution from local authorities towards personal mobility costs.

Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive, said: "This report shows that the Government's reason for cutting this funding is simply wrong.

"Care homes and local authorities don't cover these costs, and with budgets being squeezed, how can they be expected to in the future?

"We strongly urge the government to reconsider the proposal to remove the mobility component of DLA.

"This money helps people living in residential care get the personal support they need to get out and take part in activities they enjoy and

live a fulfilled life.

"Removing this benefit will take us back to the dark ages, essentially stripping people of control over their lives and leaving them stuck in residential care homes."

A DWP spokesman defended the cut and assured those with concerns that the mobility issues faced by disabled people would not be neglected.

He said: "The Government is committed to protecting DLA for the future and ensuring that the 12 billion spent on it every year goes where it is needed the most.

"We know that there can be varying levels of support in care homes and we will be working with disability organisations about this change to ensure that disabled people have their mobility needs met."

The organisations that submitted the report include Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap, Mind, the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Scope and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.