Cuts could rob disabled Sunderland people of lifeline bus

Sharon Hedley of Laverneo Care, Nookside, Sunderland, and Moira Sloan are concerned they may lose their bus in cuts.
Sharon Hedley of Laverneo Care, Nookside, Sunderland, and Moira Sloan are concerned they may lose their bus in cuts.
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ANGRY care home residents are facing the loss of their bus amid Government cutbacks.

People living at Laverneo Residential Care Service, in Nookside, Sunderland, depend on the vehicle to get out and about, from medical appointments to shopping – but their transport is now under threat.

The mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) paid to the residents at Laverneo, and others living in residential care homes, could be cut under the new national spending plans.

Sharon Hedley, who has been service manager at Laverneo since it opened 18 years ago, is concerned it will change the residents’ way of life and rob them of their independence.

“For our four ladies who live here it would mean they couldn’t get about,” she said.

“They rely on that van to get anywhere. If the mobility allowance is cut they will have to pay for the van out of their own allowance.

“The Government have put the cuts on hold from 2012 to 2013, but as far as I know they still intend to go ahead with them.

“The ladies use the van the way we would use our own transport. They need it to get on with their everyday lives,” Sharon added.

The van allows all four of the residents and their wheelchairs, as well as four support workers, to be in the van at the same time.

Moira Sloan, 55, has lived in Laverneo for three years and needs the van to carry out her day-to-day activities.

She said: “It’s not right if they take our van. I use it to go shopping and if I need to go into town.

“If we have a doctor’s appointment we need it to get there, and I use it when I go to visit my mother as well.”

DLA is paid to three million people across the UK to help cover extra costs arising from their conditions.

Ministers deferred withdrawal of the mobility component until 2013, promising a further review.

The Department of Work and Pensions said it is committed to protecting the DLA for the future, and vowed it will stay as a non means-tested benefit.

But Ministers say they must ensure the £12billion spent on DLA is used to the maximum benefit of those it is designed to help.

Disability charity Scope, is responsible for the management of Laverneo.

Chief executive Richard Hawkes said: “We have been inundated with disabled people’s concerns about the cut to this vital payment.

“This payment is a key to the outside world for disabled people in residential care, giving them the chance to leave their homes, get out and about in the community, go shopping and visit friends and family.

“These are basic, everyday activities that many of us take for granted, but are not funded by most social care packages.”