“As I understand it, the Labour frontbench supports this change. On a previous occasion, the leader of the Labour Party said he supported our changes to disability living allowance.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, PMQs, 24 November 2010
Mr Cameron was asked by Labour MP Willie Bain about the Government’s plans to scrap the mobility component of the disability living allowance (DLA) for people living in state-funded care homes.
DLA is a benefit for disabled children and adults, and is made made up of two components. There’s a care component – for those who need help looking after themselves or supervision to keep them safe. And there’s a mobility component – for those who have problems walking or need help to get around.
You can get just one component; or both. Payments vary from a £18.95 a week to £121.25.
In the emergency budget, the government said it would reform disability living allowance with an “objective medical assessment” for people claiming it to find out if they are capable of work.
At his first PMQs , Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “Let me turn to the issue of benefits and say to the Prime Minister that we will work with him on his reforms to disability living allowance and to sickness benefits, because they are important reforms and they need to be done.”
The government subsequently announced another change to DLA – scrapping the mobility component of the benefit for people living in state-funded care homes (on the basis that their needs are already catered for).
A parliamentary answer last week revealed that this will mean 30,000 people will lose £49.85 a week (£2,592 a year) and 30,000 will lose £18.95 a week (£985 a year). The government expects the change to save £135 million a year by 2014-15.
On Monday, the Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Margaret Curran, made her opposition known. She said disability organisations had described the change as “callous” – and asked if the government would listen to those organisations.
So, Mr Miliband had made clear he supported plans to reform DLA. But at the time, the government hadn’t announced it intended to take action on the mobility component of the benefit.
Today, Mr Cameron was answering a question from a Labour MP about the mobility component. He was wrong to say the government had Labour’s support.