Welfare Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by Vincent Greenwood (WR 58)

Mobility Component of PIP

Disabled People in Residential Care

Summary

1 The following evidence is given on behalf of my son Simon Greenwood who is severely learning disabled and lives in a residential care home in Nottinghamshire.

2 The evidence is intended primarily to inform your consideration of Clause 83 relating to mobility component of PIP for care home residents and Regulations concerning the same.

Simon Greenwood

3 Simon Greenwood is aged 30, is severely learning disabled with a mental age of less than 2 years. Simon is also autistic. Simon requires constant attention, he has no understanding of danger, and his behaviours can be extremely challenging. Simon has lived at the care home since 1999. He is physically fit and active and has a happy life receiving excellent care from well trained motivated staff.

Simon – Use of Mobility Allowance

4 Simon has received Higher Rate Mobility allowance since 1996 and it has always been used to lease a car for him through the Motability scheme. From his earliest years Simon has loved going out in the car. It always was, and still is, something he enjoys and looks forward to and has resolved many a stressful situation. Simon has an indefinite award as there is no prospect of his condition ever improving and my wife and I had assumed for the past 15 years that a car would always be there for him even when we are no longer here to make sure of it.

5 Staff use the car to transport Simon in a regular and varied programme of activities such as walks in the countryside, swimming, pub and café visits, ‘Dove Dance’ on a Wednesday evening plus days out to the seaside, zoo or Sherwood Forest to ride his bike in safety. The car is also used to transport Simon on home visits. We live in Staffordshire, some 60 miles away. Over the past 3 years the car has averaged 12,400 miles per annum of which home visits account for 5,700 miles per annum.

6 Through the Motability scheme the £50 per week mobility allowance pays for a 3 year vehicle lease, including insurance, road tax, servicing and tyres. For my wife and I, or the care home, to lease a vehicle for Simon the cost would exceed £70 per week. However, I would emphasise here that ‘mobility’ is about much more than providing vehicles. When Simon is out of the bungalow he needs the care of two staff and similarly when using the car two members of staff are always with him, one to drive, one to supervise. This is the most important (and expensive) part of promoting Simon’s mobility - without staff to organise and supervise activities the car would be useless.

Simon’s Care Home - Use of Mobility Allowance

7 The home was purpose built in 1999 to care for people with learning disabilities and autism. The residents live in 4 bungalows each with 6 residents. All of the residents receive mobility component of DLA, 18 at the higher rate and 6 at the lower rate. Each bungalow has a vehicle to provide transport for group activities. Fuel costs are met by the care home and residents are not charged for using these vehicles.

8 Nine residents (including Simon), who use their higher rate mobility allowance to fund a vehicle through the Motability scheme, keep their vehicles at the care home. These are driven by staff for the benefit of the disabled person. Fuel costs are met by vehicle users so that where another resident shares the use of the vehicle fuel costs are also shared.

9 These 9 additional vehicles give staff much greater flexibility in planning activities and coping with issues that inevitably arise with residents who have complex needs and challenging behaviours. The manager of the care home has said the effect of removing the mobility component would be "severely detrimental" to the service and Simon’s bungalow manager has told me she cannot begin to think what life will be like if these vehicles are lost.

The Question of Overlap

10 Recent statements from ministers and the Prime Minister appear to signal that the Government, having listened to views from all sides, do not intend to remove the mobility component from disabled people in care homes. However, on 28 March the Secretary of State referred to "overlaps and deficiencies in an incredibly messy and complex system, whereby local authorities, care homes and the Department all tread on each other’s toes" and the Minister for Disabled People said "What we have uncovered is an unacceptable way in which mobility is often dealt with in care homes". Such statements imply a system beset by confusion and waste. The statements make me fearful that the Government, in attempting to solve this perceived problem through Regulations, may deny the mobility component of PIP, in whole or in part, to disabled people in residential care.

11 There are many Local Authorities with different contracts with different care homes providing care to people with a range of disabilities. It is inevitable that they will have differing arrangements for providing transport and meeting the independent mobility needs of their residents. My own view, from personal experience, speaking to other parents and care home managers is that mobility allowance is well utilised, highly valued by recipients, providing vital additional support. There is double funding in the sense that there is a main funding stream (Local Authority care package) and the smaller DWP funded mobility allowance for the personal use of the disabled person. The important distinction is in the word ‘personal’ – mobility allowance is in the control of the disabled person to be used in the manner of their choosing. Therefore, in my opinion, there is no question of this being an ‘Overlap’ of funding – vital additional funding, yes, but not an overlap.

Concluding Remarks

12 The evidence given in paragraphs 4-9 above shows how important the mobility allowance is to my son’s life and the ability of his care home to give all residents as full and independent a life as possible. I also believe most care homes have alternative but equally effective arrangements. I hope I am mistaken but my fear is that the Government are in danger of confusing complexity with disorder and believing a problem to exist where it does not. Therefore I urge the Committee to ensure that the Bill and associated Regulations do not have the effect of removing the mobility component of PIP from severely disabled people in care homes.

April 2011