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The Low Review: Personal Mobility in State-Funded Residential Care - Call for evidence closes 10th October 2011

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The Low Review: Personal Mobility in State-Funded Residential Care<

The Low Review is an independent review set up to look at how the mobility needs of people living in residential care are met and funded.

The Spending Review 2010 announced Government plans to stop paying the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to disabled people living in residential care. The Welfare Reform Bill 2011, will replace DLA with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and contains powers to create regulations removing the mobility component of PIP from people living in state-funded residential care.

The Government is currently carrying out an internal review into how personal mobility needs are met and funded and the Low Review is intended to run in parallel to and complement the Government review by providing an opportunity for public contributions.

Launched on 18th July 2011, the review is chaired by Lord Low of Dalston, and supported by a steering group of experts in the field.

The review will build on the extensive body of work that has already been done in this area and provide recommendations and advice on how the personal mobility needs of people living in residential care should be met to Government by October 2011.

It will  consult with a wide range of external stakeholders, including disabled care home residents, family carers, and care home providers; as well as independent experts/researchers. Expert witnesses will be called to present oral evidence to the steering group.<

anonymous (not verified)
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DPOs boycott charities’ ‘independent’ review of mobility needs

Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) are to boycott a review set up by two of the big disability charities into one of the most controversial parts of the government’s welfare reform bill.

Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) and Mencap announced this week that they were launching a new “independent review” into how the mobility needs of people living in residential care are met and funded.

The review will provide recommendations to the coalition by the end of October, running in parallel with an “internal review” being carried out by the government. The charities’ review will also be used to brief peers as they debate the bill this autumn.

The bill currently gives the government powers to stop paying the mobility element of the new personal independence payment – which is set to replace disability living allowance – to people in state-funded residential homes.

But DPOs have raised concerns about the independence of the charities’ new review and have questioned why no user-led organisations were told about it or asked to take part.

The review< will be led by the disabled crossbench peer Lord [Colin] Low, former chair of RNIB and now its vice-president and also president of Disability Alliance.

The members of the review’s “steering group” are a disabled resident of a Leonard Cheshire residential home, the governor of a special school, a local government expert, the director of a think-tank, and an expert in care provision.

Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC), said he was only told about the review this week and was “surprised that there is no DPO involvement on the steering group and DPOs have not been approached to be involved or to comment”.

He said DPOs would need to consider “very carefully” whether to take part and that it was “unlikely” that UKDPC would do so, although a final decision would be made by its trustees.

Dhani said he was concerned that the review could be used to promote the need for residential services rather than disabled people’s right to live in the community.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, said he was “angry” with the decision to set up the review, which he said was “typical behaviour from two disability charities that are for disabled people, not of disabled people”.

He said the two charities had yet again “violated” the disability movement’s principle of “nothing about us without us”.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), said NCIL would also not be taking part, while she was “ struggling to see what this independent review will achieve other than to try and raise the profile of the two organisations involved”. 

She said the important question was whether the minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, was “really listening” to the evidence already provided by the disabled people and DPOs she had talked to.

Guy Parckar, LCD’s acting director of policy, campaigns and communications, said: “If the DPOs are not happy with the process, there is absolutely something we should learn from that.

“We did set this up rather hurriedly to make sure we had long enough to get people involved. We did rather rush it.”

But he said he “cannot remember” when the decision was made to launch the review or how long Mencap and LCD had been discussing the idea.

He added: “We wanted to encourage people to get involved and contribute whatever evidence they had on this because they didn’t have the opportunity through the government’s internal review. There was no attempt to try and exclude anyone.”

He said the intention was for the review to be “independent”, which was why members of the steering group were “people who were directly involved in this particular issue, which obviously relates to residential care”.

Disability Alliance said the review would be “genuinely independent” and had been launched because of charities’ “dismay and frustration with the secrecy shrouding” the government’s internal review.

Neil Coyle, DA’s director of policy, said that disabled people and DPOs should “all be engaged and make sure the Low review is more robust, more evidence-based and delivers strong recommendations to the Department for Work and Pensions that cannot be ignored”.<

anonymous (not verified)
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The government looks set to back down from controversial plans to remove up to £50 a week in mobility benefits from disabled people in care homes.

Charities are cautiously optimistic that the government will not now take away the mobility component of disability living allowance from 78,000 residents funded by the NHS or councils as envisaged in the Welfare Reform Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

It is thought the government will announce its U-turn next month, though it is uncertain precisely what concessions the government is prepared to make on the mobility component.

The news follows disability rights campaigner Lord Low's inquiry into scrapping the mobility component, which called for the benefit to be retained<.

The government is holding its own internal review into the proposal, which would come into force in 2013 with the replacement of DLA with a new benefit, personal independence payment.

Steve McIntosh, policy and public affairs officer at Carers UK, said: "There are a number of areas, which the government is looking at again around the Welfare Reform Bill. We would welcome any move that the government would make to continue the mobility component in residential care and hope this represents a positive sign the government is looking to reconsider the decision."

Simon Shaw, parliamentary manager at the deafblind charity Sense, said: "Over a year on, we continue to hope that the government listens to the concerns raised by deafblind and disabled people to reconsider its position, so that people living in residential care do not lose an essential lifeline."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "We have always been clear that we will not make any changes that stop disabled people in care homes from getting out and about.

"Our officials have spent the last few months gathering information and evidence, including visiting disabled people in care homes to find out from them and their families about their mobility needs.

"The Low review also looked at some of the same issues and so we will be reflecting on the outcome of this work before we announce the final decision shortly."

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