U-turn on disabled benefits cut “the right thing to do”

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U-turn on disabled benefits cut “the right thing to do”

7th December 2011

The decision to drop controversial plans to cut some benefit payments to disabled people has been hailed as the right thing to do by a serious injury specialist.

Jonathan Fogerty, who was himself spinally injured as a teenager, said that the government’s proposal to axe the part of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) relating to mobility for those in residential care had been ill-advised.

“That cut would have affected thousands of disabled people across the country, and would have led to them losing benefits worth £51-a-week,” said Jonathan, of Fentons Solicitors LLP. “As lawyers dealing with individuals who often have been affected by a serious injury, we are acutely aware of the mobility restrictions some people can face. The extra costs associated with mobility can be significant, and this proposal would have had a serious impact on many people’s quality of life - affecting their ability to live with some level of independence, to visit family and friends, and attend medical appointments.”

Up to 80,000 disabled people in care homes are thought to receive the mobility component of DLA. But earlier this year the government argued that local authority contracts with care homes should cover residents' mobility needs.

“I am delighted that the government has seen fit to back down on this issue,” said Jonathan. “It is clearly the right thing to do. The removal of this vital component would have been a devastating blow to some of the most vulnerable members of our society - many of those individuals who would have been affected are housebound or reliant on it to help them lead full and independent lives,” he said.

“This decision will have a favourable impact on those individuals who have been affected by a life-changing injury, and disabled people as a whole.”

The government still plans to replace DLA - introduced in 1992 to help disabled people cope with the extra costs they face in their daily lives - with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment. All 3.2 million people receiving DLA at the moment, both those in work and out of work, will be reassessed.

“It remains to be seen what impact all of the proposed changes will have on the pockets of the disabled people in this country,” said Jonathan, “but the fact the government has seen fit to listen to reason in this instance gives cause to be cautiously optimistic that they will continue to listen to common sense in the future.”

Read more at: BBC News