Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Treating the Individual Not the Impairment: The Government Is Reforming Support for People with Sight Loss to Ensure They Live Independent Lives

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Treating the Individual Not the Impairment: The Government Is Reforming Support for People with Sight Loss to Ensure They Live Independent Lives

Article excerpt

There are almost two million people in the UK living with sight loss. It is important they get the help they need to live independent lives and have the same opportunities as everyone else. That is why we continue to spend around [pounds sterling]50bn a year on disabled people and their services--this includes around [pounds sterling]13bn on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) alone.

However, with 71 per cent getting DLA for life without any systematic reassessments and so per cent of decisions being made on the basis of the claim form alone without any additional corroborating medical evidence, we need to ensure that the support we offer is better targeted.

The new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will include a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews--something missing in the current system--to make sure the support is going to those who need it most. PIP will better reflect today's understanding of disability by looking at someone's ability to carry out a broad range of everyday activities such as washing, cooking and getting around.

We have consulted extensively on the assessment criteria, working particularly closely with organisations representing people with sensory impairments, including the RNIB, and as such made significant changes to the assessment based on the feedback we received. For example we have included reference to orientation aids such as long canes in the criteria for the mobility component. This means someone who is blind and needs to use an assistance dog or long cane to follow journeys, even to familiar places, will receive 12 points--the enhanced rate of the mobility component. …

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