Clause 83

Part of Welfare Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:15 pm on 10th May 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 7:15 pm, 10th May 2011

Thank you, Mr Gray, for that ruling, which is much appreciated. I am sure that we are all feeling a bit weary, but this part of the Bill will certainly wake us up, because it is the most controversial element and the one that has received by far the most attention.

There are no surprises in what the Opposition will say this afternoon. The Government are well aware that we do not believe that the DLA mobility component should be removed from those in residential care homes. We believe that the Bill fails the compassion test because it contains this clause, which will remove the mobility component of DLA for people in residential care homes and put nothing appropriate in its place. We support sensible, careful and compassionate reform to DLA, but this measure will leave many disabled people trapped in their own homes.

There have been various developments in the story of the DLA mobility component cut, so it might be helpful to the Committee if I provide a brief summary of how we got here and try to clarify exactly where we are now. Originally, the Government stated that 60,000 people would be affected by the decision to remove DLA mobility from those in residential care homes:

“We estimate that approximately 60,000 people who claim DLA and live in residential care will be affected by this measure in Great Britain.”—[Official Report, 3 November 2010; Vol. 517, c. 819W.]

The Government have since updated that estimate, and they are now on record as stating that the change will affect about 80,000 people, at a cost saving to the Exchequer of £160 million. I am sure that people are familiar with that figure. On 23 March, the Prime Minister told the House that the Government would not remove the mobility component of DLA. When pressed by the Leader of the Opposition

“Will the Prime Minister explain why he proposes to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance from 80,000 care home residents?”— the Prime Minister categorically said:

“The short answer is that we are not.”—[Official Report, 23 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 944.]

The Budget Red Book, which I know that Members have here today, flatly contradicts the Prime Minister’s statement on two key points. It confirms that the Government plan to remove the mobility component of DLA from claimants in residential care, with £475 million taken from people in residential care by 2015-16 and a cut of £150 million more from the mobility component of DLA than originally forecast in the comprehensive spending review last year—of course that reflects the 20,000 extra people who will lose the mobility component.

Following widespread condemnation of the decision to take the mobility component away from those in residential care homes, the Government once again  changed tack and told us that that decision was now subject to a review. I am sure that many Government Members welcomed that review. The Minister knows that I have asked a series of parliamentary questions about that apparent review, which seems to be shrouded in secrecy.

For the record, I asked the Minister when she expected the results of the review to be published; whether people living in state-funded residential care will be eligible to receive payment of the mobility component of PIP; what plans she has to engage disabled people, groups and organisations in her Department’s review of the proposal and what the terms of reference were for the review. I tabled those questions some time ago, and I received a reply today—perhaps in good time for the Committee. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham has had similar experiences.

The Minister replied:

“The Government received a great deal of feedback on the proposal”—

I am sure they did—

“announced in the spending review, to withdraw the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from people in residential care homes…In response to the concerns raised by individuals and organisations, we announced that we would not remove the DLA mobility component from people in residential care from October 2012 and that we would review the existing evidence and gather more to enable us to determine the extent to which there are overlaps in provision for mobility needs of people in residential care homes.

The work is being carried out by civil servants in the Department for Work and Pensions and has included, among other things, discussions with individuals and groups of disabled people as well as with organisations which represent them.”