UK policy changes lead to loss of mobility and independence for people with disabilities

woman using hand controls to drive car
Cuts to UK Mobility Scheme

Recent changes in the UK’s government welfare system is having devastating results for people with disabilities. Under the previous policy, over 600,000 people with disabilities were able to use the ‘Mobility Scheme,’ which gave people with disabilities funds to lease cars, scooters, or power wheelchairs. Funds could also be used to cover personal adaptations, such as hand controls on a wheelchair. Now, however, due to a major policy change 45% of people using the scheme have lost access to such accommodations, and thus their access to personal independence through transportation. Children with disabilities under the age of 16 and adults with disabilities over 65 are not being affected by the policy change.

Disability Rights UK’s chief executive, Liz Sayce, stated to the BBC that, “The Personal Independence Payment is supposed to help with those costs, but many people are being denied the benefit because they are not assessed properly. Sometimes that means people lose their cars; a massive blow which impacts on their ability to remain independent, take part in their communities or get and keep a job.” Individuals who lose their access to accommodations are allowed to appeal, and 60% of claimants have won their appeals. However, according to an article by the BBC that covered this issue, “campaigners warn [the change] could lead to a loss of independence.”

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.