Clause 83

Part of Welfare Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:15 pm on 10th May 2011.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 8:15 pm, 10th May 2011

I shall proceed with my comments otherwise we will get even more bogged down in the detail.

When looking at this issue, we have discovered a number of things that need addressing concerning the local provision of mobility support, and I am not willing to walk away from some of the problems that we have identified. There is clearly uncertainty about how mobility support works in practice. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberconwy has graphically described some of the work he has been doing by talking to care homes in his constituency, and the different ways that individual care homes identify and meet the mobility needs of their residents. There are a wide range of different duties and contractual obligations to meet those needs, and service providers and residents—and their families—are sometimes very unclear about where the responsibility lies for mobility funding. The issue might be difficult and add complications to the debate, but it is an important part of unpicking the problem. If we are to address the fundamental issue of ensuring certainty about the provision and funding of mobility support for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, we must acknowledge that the system is far from perfect and requires some intervention and remedial work.

Families and disabled people across the board have been concerned about the lack of clarity, and to me that is unacceptable given that we are dealing with some of  the most vulnerable people in society. In reforming DLA and introducing PIP, we must recognise the importance of mobility to residents in care homes, and members of the Committee can be assured that all Government Members take that issue seriously. We must ensure that we have a system where disabled people are in control of their lives, whether or not they are residents of care homes.

I welcome the commitment made by the Minister responsible for social care, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), to personalised services for all disabled people, and I hope that that will move towards clarifying and reducing some of the confusion and opacity currently in the system. Those charities that have been vocal about the issue have pointed out that current provision is patchy at best and may not always work in the best interests of disabled people. I do not find that situation acceptable and I give the Committee a clear undertaking that we will not remove the ability of severely disabled people to get out and about. We will always strive to remove overlaps, and as we move towards introducing the PIP in April 2013, I will make sure that disabled people are treated fairly, regardless of their place of residence. I hope that with those reassurances, hon. Members will find it appropriate to withdraw their amendments.