DLA and residential homes – a nastier cut than you may think
Lurking in the detail of the Spending Review is a horrid little cut that will stop thousands of disabled people being able to get out of their homes. The plan to remove the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from people in residential care will save the government £135 million a year by 2015, but at a cost to be paid by some of the most vulnerable people in the country.
DLA is a “costs” benefit that helps disabled people cope with the extra costs of disability. There is a “care component” that makes a contribution towards the costs of personal care and a “mobility component” for people who have difficulty walking. The Motability scheme makes it possible for people to use their mobility component to pay for an adapted car or wheelchair or scooter. DLA often doesn’t meet disabled people’s extra costs in full, but it does make a real difference.
The Spending Review announced that people will stop getting the mobility component once they have been in residential care for 28 days. A Treasury document that sets out the policy changes and how much they will cost or save justifies this on the grounds that people already lose the care component when they enter a residential home and that people in hospital are not entitled to the mobility component.
But these are not fair comparisons. Firstly, people in hospital lose the mobility component because they are less likely to need it while in hospital.
Secondly, people in residential homes lose their care component because the residential home now provides the care, it won’t be providing their mobility support. Because of this change thousands of people will be unable to get out of their residential homes.
The Treasury costings document explicitly says that the Motability scheme will be included in this cut. It isn’t clear what will happen to the 3-year leases that most beneficiaries use to get their cars or to the hire purchase agreements used by a minority.