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Disabled People: Independent Living

Volume 629: debated on Monday 9 October 2017

Supporting someone to live independently is an essential part of enabling that person to pursue their goals, whether they are personal or career goals. Education and independent living support are the two highest priorities for the Office for Disability Issues.

Every week around 800 Motability vehicles are taken away from disabled people across the UK as a result of the transition to PIP and, according to the most recent DWP statistic on reassessments, 48% of claimants receive a lower level or no award when transferring from DLA to PIP. Does the Minister really believe that taking money away from disabled people on low incomes will help them to live independently?

The hon. Gentleman will know that in spring we announced changes to Motability to enable people to keep their cars pending appeal. We are looking to make changes to Motability, and I am pleased to say that many in this House have supported the campaign led by Together for Short Lives to extend the Motability scheme to under-threes. We have been in discussions with Motability and the Family Fund about extending Motability to under-threes. Individual constituents will not need to apply; they will be referred by the Family Fund. This is a big step forward in enabling families with small children who have heavy equipment to socialise and go out together.

My constituent Jacci Woodcock has been campaigning for some time for Dying to Work. She has a terminal illness and was hounded out by her employer. She would like more employers to sign up—employers such as Derbyshire County Council and Rolls-Royce Aero Engines, which have just done so. Will the Minister say what steps she would like to see to ensure that people have more dignity when they have a terminal diagnosis?

I thank my hon. Friend for what she has done on the campaign and also Rolls-Royce and her local authority for signing up. I also thank her for bringing Jacci Woodcock to the Department for Work and Pensions to meet me. I think that all Members owe Jacci Woodcock a great debt of gratitude for the campaign that she has run in very trying and difficult circumstances. I have listened to her with great care, and we will take on board her recommendations as part of the health and work road map, which we will publish later this autumn.

The stress and exhaustion caused to my constituent by the removal of her Motability car led to her losing her professional post and being redeployed to a role on half the salary. Will the Minister look again at the ridiculous situation whereby the Government are prepared to spend more on Access to Work payments for taxis—in this case nearly £4,500—than on PIP mobility support, which would offer real independence to disabled workers?

The hon. Lady makes a very good point; indeed, we are looking at precisely that. There are lots of pots of money out there—PIP and Access to Work, which she mentioned, are just two—but very little reference between them. We have been working on that and we hope to make some announcements shortly.