Letter: Benefit change hits disabled

Benefit change hits disabled

Sir: It would appear that in the proposed changes to housing benefit little thought has been given to the impact on disabled people. The changes would limit the amount of housing benefit available for single people under 60 living in the private sector to the cost of shared accommodation.

This would mean that disabled people living in self-contained accommodation might have to move to shared housing. Not only is shared housing not suitable for many disabled people, but it may be impossible to find accessible shared housing. For example, it may be dangerous for someone with a visual impairment to share accommodation with other people who may inadvertently move furniture or kitchen equipment. Although the Government intends to exempt those they consider severely disabled, this will only affect a maximum of 6,000 people, a small percentage of the disabled people who would be affected.

These proposals could also prove very expensive. In 1994/5, 1,500 private- sector tenants received disabled facilities grants to adapt their homes. The average grant was pounds 3,700. If these disabled people have to move to shared housing they will need another grant. Added to this will be the increased cost to social services for community care if the shared accommodation is limiting the disabled person's independence.

The regulations are now before Parliament and the proposals are due to be implemented in October. We would urge the next government to reconsider.

BERT MASSIE

Director

The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation

London EC1

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