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DLA extended to visually impaired

By Sunil Peck

Visually impaired people will be eligible to claim a higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) The Government has announced.

Ministers made the announcement during the debate on the second reading of the welfare reform bill in the House of Commons after an amendment tabled by the Labour MP John Robertson was approved.

It means that as of 2011, severely visually impaired people  claiming the lower rate of the mobility component of DLA will be able to claim the higher rate which is currently worth an additional £29 per week.

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman told Disability Now that the details of who would qualify as being severely visually impaired were still to be worked out. But he said that estimates suggested that around 20 thousand people would be eligible.

The secretary of state for work and pensions James Purnell said: "This additional money could make a real difference helping people to go out to find a job, for instance having the extra cash to pay for a taxi to a job interview."

The campaign to extend the higher rate of DLA to visually impaired people was spear-headed by the RNIB who argued that people with severe sight loss often have mobility problems on a par with people unable to walk but who are granted the higher rate.

The former secretary of state for work and pensions David Blunkett paid tribute to John Robertson for tabling the amendment and James Purnell and the Minister for Disabled People, Jonathan Shaw, for supporting the campaign.

He said: “I spoke at the hugely successful RNIB lobby of Parliament earlier in the year and I know that this decision by the Government is right and just."

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive of RNIB, said that she was overjoyed by the news.

She added: "It is a fantastic victory for people with severe visual impairment and for everybody who has supported RNIB’s two and a half year campaign to end this long standing injustice."

Taken from the Disability Now Website: http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/  24/08/2009


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