The Removal of DLA mobility component from people
living in residential care
Removing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility component from
people living in residential care will have a huge and regressive impact
on the independence of thousands of disabled people.
The resulting savings of £160 million are relatively small in contrast to
the total of £81 billion in spending cuts the Government plans to make
by 2014/15. However, the impact on the 80,000 disabled people to be
affected will be massive, with many left unable to afford to leave their
home and denied the independence most people take for granted.
Many people living in residential care have all their income taken to pay
for their care, and are left with just the £22 per week Personal Expenses
Allowance (PEA) to cover all personal costs, such as clothes, toiletries
and phone bills, and DLA mobility component to meet mobility needs.
Without DLA mobility component, the PEA is not enough to cover
additional mobility costs and people will be left without the money to
meet basic mobility needs.
The removal of DLA mobility component from people living in residential
care is based on an assumption of "double funding". However, local
authorities are not currently meeting mobility costs and rather than
removing “an overlap of public funds" as the Government has stated,
this measure will simply transfer costs to already stretched local
authorities or will leave people without the vital support that they need
for independent mobility.
We want to see DLA mobility component retained for everyone living in
residential care and are calling on the Government to act to ensure that
disabled people are not denied their independence.
The Spending Review announced that from October 2012 the
Government will no longer pay Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility
component to disabled people living in residential care, unless they are
DLA is a non-contributory, non-means tested and tax-free benefit that
helps meet extra costs associated with disability. It has two components,
the care component and the mobility component. When a person moves
into local authority funded residential care, payment of the care
component stops as an individual‟s additional care costs are now met by
the local authority. However, the individual keeps the mobility
component as this continues to be needed to fund additional costs faced
in maintaining independent mobility.
The mobility component is currently paid at two rates: the lower rate at
£18.95 per week and the higher rate at £49.85 per week. It helps pay for
accessible transport, or mobility aids such as a collapsible wheelchair,
with people claiming the Higher Rate eligible to lease or buy a car or
electric wheelchair through the Motability Scheme. It makes a vital
difference in ensuring that people can leave their home independently
and participate in everyday activities that non-disabled people take for
granted, like meeting family, friends or getting to college.
Social care is made up of a variety of different services, normally
provided through local authorities, but all designed to help people with
everyday tasks that they would otherwise be unable to carry out. This
could mean support with personal care, such as washing or getting
dressed, support with key tasks about the house, residential support in a
care home, or a personal assistant to help across different everyday
Disabled and older people can apply to their local authority to receive
social care support. If they meet the local authority‟s eligibility criteria
they can receive support arranged by the council, although this may be
provided by the local authority, by a private sector organisation or by a
voluntary organisation. Unlike NHS care, social care is means-tested, so
income or savings will be taken into account when determining the
contribution that an individual will pay towards their care package. For
many people in residential care this can be extremely expensive,
meaning that all their income (and any additional income they receive
through work) is taken to pay for their social care, leaving them with just
the £22 a week Personal Expenses Allowance.
Impact of removing DLA mobility from people in residential care
Approximately 80,000 disabled people living in residential homes or
schools will be affected, including older people, who claimed DLA before
the age of 65 and are now in residential care.
Many people will be particularly affected by the loss of access to the
Motability scheme. Whilst the Government has suggested that existing
Motability agreements will be honoured, the imminent removal of DLA
mobility component means that even with the cut off point in 2012, many
people may already be unable to purchase or lease a Motability vehicle
as they will be unable to guarantee payments beyond October 2012.
Don't local authorities already meet people's mobility needs?
Local authority services are designed to meet only needs which fall within a
set eligibility framework. This identifies four bands of need; low, moderate,
substantial and critical, and the majority of councils will only fund substantial
and critical needs. Therefore, an individual may be eligible for DLA mobility
component but not be eligible for support according to local authority criteria.
Furthermore, given the current pressure on local authority funding, many
councils can be expected to raise the eligibility criteria for social care.
Even when mobility needs are factored into care packages, these are
generally just core costs for a limited number of outings or events, often
to meet particular „assessed needs‟, for example going to a day centre
or a regular medical appointment. They do not factor in the costs of
individuals‟ personal mobility needs, for example, a navigational aid or
sports wheelchair. Through meeting additional mobility costs, and
placing control in the hands of the individual, DLA mobility component
enables disabled people to retain their independence in a way that local
authority funding does not.
Who receives DLA mobility component?
People only receive DLA mobility component if they meet strict criteria
around mobility needs and if the payment of DLA mobility component will
help them overcome barriers they face to independent mobility.
Currently, if an individual‟s impairment or health condition means they
cannot „benefit from enhanced facilities for locomotion‟, for example if
their medical condition means it is not safe for them to be moved (Social
Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, S.73(8)) they are not
eligible for DLA mobility component.
What will the removal of DLA mobility component mean for those
With their income taken to pay for their residential care, many people will
be left with just the Personal Expenses Allowance (PEA), paid at £22.30
per week. Already this is insufficient to meet personal costs such
toiletries, clothes or mobile phone bills and for many meeting the costs
of getting out and about independently will simply become impossible.
For example, replacing a wheelchair battery could cost up to 6 weeks
worth of an individual‟s PEA.
How does this impact on disabled people’s rights?
Article 20 (Personal Mobility) of the UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities commits signatories to:
“take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest
possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by:
a) Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the
manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost;
b) Facilitating access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids,
devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and
intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost;”
Removing DLA mobility component from disabled people living in
residential care jeopardises this right.
What about residential schools?
The Government also plans to remove DLA mobility component for
children in residential schools during term time. These children already
experience additional disadvantages through having needs substantial
enough to mean they have to live away from home. DLA mobility
component enables them to engage with the wider community and
experience the same opportunities to develop independence and life
skills as their non-disabled peers, opportunities they will be denied if
DLA mobility component is removed.
The removal of DLA mobility component from children in residential
schools will also impact on families. Residential schools usually only
provide transport for the start and end of term, with no extra provision for
visits at weekends, or for the child when they are at home during the
holidays. Without the mobility component many families will be unable to
maintain the adapted car needed for visits home.
Rights of disabled children
The withdrawal of DLA mobility component represents a significant
erosion of the rights of disabled children. The UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child Article 31 states that:
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to
engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the
child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to
participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the
provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic,
recreational and leisure activity.
However, if the mobility component is withdrawn from children in
residential schools they may be denied these rights.
Isn’t this change just aligning the rules for people who are placed
in residential care by the NHS and people who are placed by their
At present if you are transferred to a residential service from hospital to
meet your continuing health needs then your care will be fully funded by
the NHS, regardless of your income, but you may lose your DLA mobility
component. If you are placed by your local authority to meet social care
needs, you are means-tested and expected to contribute to your costs,
but you will receive DLA mobility component. Given this key difference in
funding, it is not appropriate to remove DLA mobility from people in local
authority funded residential care on the grounds that this will align the
rules with those in NHS funded care.
What does it mean to exclude “self-funders”?
Self-funders are individuals who meet the costs of their residential care
entirely through their own income and they have been excluded from this
A three tiered system?
By removing DLA mobility from people in local authority funded
residential care and excluding self-funders:
Someone with a substantial disposable income or savings who
pays for their own care will continue to receive DLA mobility
Someone placed in a care home through the NHS may not receive
DLA mobility component, but will not be means-tested and will get
their care funded by the NHS, regardless of their income or
Someone placed through a local authority will be means-tested,
will be required to contribute from any income they have to meet
the costs of care, will no longer receive DLA mobility component
and will receive just the £22.30 a week paid through the PEA.