John Redwood welcomes u-turn on mobility benefit for blind people

Wokingham MP John Redwood has welcomed a Government decision that allows blind people to receive a benefit called the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance. This is a small sum of money to help disabled people with extra mobility costs, such as taxis or private hire vehicles. Currently, blind people are excluded from receiving this benefit, despite facing some of the biggest obstacles when trying to travel independently.

After meeting with a group of his constituents last year, John Redwood threw his weight behind the campaign to give blind people an extra helping hand. He supported a parliamentary motion calling on the Government to stop excluding blind people from eligibility for the benefit, and wrote to the Minister for Disabled People at the Department for Work and Pensions arguing the case.

During Report Stage of the Welfare Report Bill in the House of Commons, the Minister for Disabled People said that from April 2011, people with no useful sight for mobility purposes will be able to claim the Higher Rate Mobility Component. This will give them an extra £29 a week. Although this is not a huge sum of money, the RNIB has estimated that it will assist some 26,000 people, helping them to travel to job interviews, visit friends or family and engage in their local communities.

Speaking about the Government’s decision, John Redwood said: “I was pleased to have been able to lend my voice to this important campaign. My constituents put forward a powerful case, and I was glad to have been able to represent them to the Minister”.

“The public finances are tight and the Government does need to find ways to cut its expenditure. However, the way to do this is not to neglect disabled or other vulnerable people but to reduce wasteful spending like regional assemblies, Identity Cards, bank bailouts and the lavish pension benefits of Whitehall bureaucrats”.

“I am pleased the Government has shown a degree of sense and compassion in this case, and that my constituents who lobbied so hard for such a change will benefit”.

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  1. Shaun Pilkington
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    As an MS patient and someone who gets the Higher Rate Mobility component (mercifully I don’t need the care component yet!), I must point out that the very nature of this award is such that it will, by definition, end up being spent in the wider economy.

    While there’s evidence that tax cuts or interest rate cuts simply encourage people to cut down their debts or to save and therefore provide no economic stimulus, giving money to people who HAVE to spend it on services necessarily tied to their local community (taxis, other transport or services) makes both humanitarian and economic sense.

    As for the general point about the blind having not been eligible? Well lets just say that I’m glad that nonsense is over!

  2. mikestallard
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I would rather be anything but blind – even dying of cancer. So, any help for them, yes! And cancel something else.

  3. Basil Brown
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    A very welcome development. Good to see an example of well-targeted spending that will make a real difference to people with genuine extra needs.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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