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Mobility Benefits for Visually Impaired Residents

October 10, 2008 7:15 AM

Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr David Kendall won cross party support for his motion at Wednesday's Full Council meeting calling for greater support for blind and partially sighted people in meeting the extra mobility costs they face.

Under current social care eligibility criteria blind people are not considered to have "critical" or "substantial" care needs. This results in people being excluded from care support which would enable them to lead full and independent lives as active citizens and members of their community.

Cllr Kendall sought the Borough Council's backing because the campaign to secure greater support for blind people in meeting the extra mobility costs they face is at a critical juncture. The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has been working with the Department for Work and Pensions for over a year to put in place the detail about how blind people can be given access to the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Allowance (DLA). This extra cost benefit gives disabled people support with the additional expenses they face because of their impairment.

Whilst some progress has been made in these discussions and officials have advised ministers that this is an achievable change, the Minister James Purnell has now said that whilst he understands the force of the argument and is sympathetic with the aims he is not able, at this time , to commit to amending the existing arrangements.

Cllr Kendall said " In passing this motion Brentwood Borough Council is sending out a clear message of support to the two hundred plus blind and partially sighted residents living in Brentwood and demonstrating to the Government that we believe accessibility, mobility and independent living are important priorities. I hope our local MP Eric Pickles will now sign up to the early day motion (number 1982) calling for action to be taken as soon as possible on this important issue".