Presenter: peter white producer: kathleen griffin


White So what effect are you saying that the withdrawal of this money would have? Brown



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White

So what effect are you saying that the withdrawal of this money would have?


Brown

The proportion that goes to the residential home will either mean that the people living in those homes are much more restricted about what they can do in terms of getting out and about or it means, which is what the government says it means, that the local authorities will have to pay. Now that's all very well but government has been talking about giving extra money to social care to cover the costs for local authorities, if they're simply giving with one hand and taking away with the other that extra money is actually much less than they imply.


White

There is this £2 billion which has been earmarked, we're told, for social care; won't that actually deal with that problem, I mean that's the money that is supposed to be earmarked for exactly the kind of things that you're worried will go?


Brown

Well I think there's two points there. First of all that money is not ring-fenced, which means the local authorities can spend it on whatever they choose to spend it on and one of the things we're very worried about is that they won't spend the whole amount on social care, that it will be used to prevent cuts to other perhaps more popular services that they would otherwise have to cut. The second thing is there's no point the government saying look we've put this extra two billion in, if with the other hand they're taking a significant amount out through the DLA mobility component.


White

And amongst the groups who are already involved in making representations to the government about this are the RNIB and Guide Dogs.


Well also with us was Liz Ball, Sense's campaigns involvement officer. Liz is both deaf and blind herself and you'll sometimes hear my questions being transcribed for her into Braille on a computer. Liz herself lives independently and she explained what the mobility component meant to her.
Ball

I'm unable to travel on public transport independently, so whenever I go out - whether that's to go shopping or to go to work, to go and visit friends - I have to have a support worker with me. Now I'm fortunate in that the hours for my support worker are paid for by social services or by Access to Work but the travel isn't, so every time I travel I'm not just paying my fare I'm also paying the fare for my support worker. So without the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance all of that would be costs that I would have to find myself which is quite considerable - if you're always having to pay double that soon mounts up. And I wouldn't be able to do all the things that I do. I am really concerned about the impact that it is going to have on deafblind people and other disabled people living in residential care. Residential care is their home, why just because they happen to be living in residential care should they not have the same freedoms to get out as anyone else has?


White

You're a representative of deafblind people, what are the kinds of things you're hearing from other deafblind people about the effects this might have?


Ball

For some people it's going to mean that they simply can't get out and do things, for other people it will mean that they lose the control over when and where they go. People are really worried that they are at best going to be told when and where they can go and at worst not going to be able to get out at all. The government keep talking about fairness and choice and control and these are the very things that are going to be lost. When talking about this particular issue at one point at least compare people living in residential care to patients in hospital, that comparison to me just doesn't seem logical at all and it seems to me that perhaps there's not a recognition of what this actually is going to mean to people.


White

Sue Brown, let me finally return to you. It's difficult to believe, isn't it, that the government would want to bring this about, would want to cause damage to a group as vulnerable as deafblind people?


Brown

I suspect that they may not have thought this through, they may not have realised that this amount of DLA is already factored into the system and therefore to take it away will actually have this impact and that's why I'm hopeful that we could actually get this decision reversed.


White

Sue Brown and before that Liz Ball, both of Sense. Well we asked the Department of Work and Pensions about the implications of this measure for deafblind people. Minister for disabled people Maria Miller sent us this statement.



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