Posted: 19 October 2011

We need to support disabled children’s mobility

The Low Review has not been widely discussed but it can be incredibly influential in disabled people’s lives, especially as the House of Lords debates changes to the welfare reform bill.

Named for Lord Low of Dalston, the Low Review considers mobility issues for disabled young people and adults in residential accommodation.

We’ve provided evidence to support the review, and when the review is presented in parliament early in November we expect it to provide much-needed clarity about the importance of support for disabled people’s mobility. [Update: Our Chief Executive issued a statement upon the release of the Low Review, warmly welcoming the report's findings.]

The mobility component

For anyone with a disability, Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) is a key source of income. This benefit helps offset the greater costs of living faced by children and adults with a disability.

A key piece of DLA is the mobility component, which helps cover transport costs. We work with young people who live in residential schools who receive the mobility component.

The mobility component has a major impact on these disabled young people’s lives. These funds enable family members to visit children and take them out during term time or help fund the children’s transport during the holidays. Family carers often use the mobility component to pay for adaptations to vehicles.

Young people we work with rely on their mobility component.

‘A devastating impact’

Under the welfare reform bill that the House of Lords is reviewing, DLA is replaced with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Under PIP those living in residential care will lose the mobility component. This would have a devastating impact on disabled young people’s lives. Removing this financial support would restrict the ability of young people in residential placements to live a full life.

With a sharp cut in their income, they will find it more difficult to maintain relationships with family and friends, play an active role in their local community, pursue their own interests and live independently. (Please read how 17-year-old Jack and his family rely on the mobility component on page 2 of the evidence we provided to the Low Report.)

Imprecise assumptions

The government assumes that transport is provided by residential facilities and that young people living in residential care have all their transport needs provided for by the package of support purchased by the local authority.

This is not the case.

Transport provided by an education- or care-provider is often limited, with no extra provision for meeting friends and family, weekend visits, day trips, going shopping for personal items or accessing leisure activities.

The low cost of supporting disabled young people’s transportation

We believe the government’s proposal in the welfare reform bill is likely to constitute a breach of children’s rights. Furthermore, it contravenes current equality legislation, as well as the government’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable from spending cuts.

It would cost only £10 million per year to continue payments for all disabled young people under age 18 and only an additional £5 million per year to extend this to those under age 24. Continued investment of these relatively small amounts of money would make a substantial difference to these particularly vulnerable children’s lives.

We look forward to the publication of the Low Review and its recommendations, and commend Mencap and Leonard Cheshire Disability for asking Lord Low to chair this independent review. We hope that the evidence persuades the government to rethink its proposals.

By Elizabeth Lovell, Policy Adviser

By Liz Lovell - Policy team

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This article clearly shows how we should be taking all the necessary steps to make sure that the disabled children get the money that they need, not only to survive but to thrive in this world.

Thanks for your comment, Bethany. We agree completely.

If you can, please send a comment to your MP and urge them to endorse the Low Review's recommendations: