Welfare Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by Ron Ferguson (WR 03)

Mobility Component of the DLA.

 

Although I am now retired previously I served as Chairman of Finance for High Peak Borough Council, as an Executive Committee Member of Glossop Volunteer Bureau, Treasurer of Glossop Community Transport and a Founder member and Secretary of Glossop Out and About Club. The latter organisation provided the opportunity for frail elderly, and people with disabilities to enjoy days out and short holidays. It operated in conjunction with the Volunteer Bureau and Community Transport.

 

I am very conscious of the financial pressures which are currently being exerted upon the government and local councils, and the need to substantially reduce the public sector deficit in order that the private sector can afford to sustain it. Nevertheless, I would submit that there should be certain red lines established, in particular to ensure that the government’s wishes that those who truly need help will not be disadvantaged. I would further submit that the proposal to remove the mobility component of DLA from the new PIP for those in residential care crosses that line.

 

For many years it has been necessary for users, whether in care or otherwise, to be charged for the use of community transport services, even if subsidised by private donations or the LAs, and the Mobility Allowance was an important source of income to allow them to take part in such activities. When we started the Glossop Out and About Club in the early 1980s it was because our experience showed that many people, whether living at home or in care were not getting out, other than for their once a week shopping trip provided by Community Transport. This is surely not the way that frail elderly people and those with disabilities should be treated? I fear that removing the allowance will have that effect.

 

Over the years the initiatives of many community transport operations in providing services such as those offered by the Out and About Club, and the use of their facilities by residential care homes to enable their residents to enjoy a respite from its four walls, reduced the reliance on LA funding for the community transport operations, indeed some became self-financing, at least in part. The costs to the care homes are usually recharged to the residents.

 

To conclude, I would submit that the removal of the Mobility Allowance will disadvantage the life of those in care, have a detrimental effect on their health and put at risk community transport operations. It should not be necessary for me to emphasise the substantial voluntary component in the provision of these services – the ‘Big Society’ in action!

 


March 2011