Useful resources for people living with mobility difficulties
30th July 2014
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Millions of people in the UK have mobility difficulties to some degree and the range of useful resources that are available to them is equally large. Although many can offer small snippets of good advice or useful contact information, some are more directly useful than others. Here, we offer a guide to some official resources from which you can find out more about living with a disability or the limited mobility that often comes with growing older, as well as how to continue enjoying a good quality of life.
The government can offer a number of benefits and grants that are designed to help those in difficult circumstances pay for their essentials, and a number have been specifically created for people who are disabled. Detailed information on all of these can be found on the gov.uk website, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, but most of the application stages will involve going through local councils.
Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme is replacing the Disability Living Allowance; this is something that gradually started happening on 10 June 2013 and continues to be rolled out across the country.
This benefit provides funding for those who are disabled and below state pension age. The phasing out of the Disability Living Allowance involved removing the lowest bracket of the care component so that only those with more severe disabilities and mobility problems are now entitled to financial help for day-to-day independent living, which is something that can be read about in more detail in this previous article.
Funds received remain around the same for Personal Independence Payments as with the Disability Living Allowance, providing those who are of working age with funds that can help them to live independently. As with all benefits, an official assessment will need to be carried out beforehand eligibility is confirmed, to find out more see the Personal Independence Payment handbook.
Disabled Facilities Grant
A Disabled Facilities Grant can help fund the cost of new stairlifts, adapted heating controls, wheelchair ramps and other useful adaptations for those who have mobility difficulties. An application form will have to be filled out, which you will find available from your local council. A Social Services Occupational Therapist will need to recommend that a major adaptation is necessary for funding to be granted; this can in time include stairlifts and the widening of doorways, but smaller works can be carried out free of charge following the initial assessment in accordance with national guidelines from the Department of Health.
It is important that no adaptations are started before the grant is approved, as financial help is not available for work that has already begun. The national target for local councils is to provide the result of the application in writing within six months of the initial application date.
Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance, Carer's Credit and Direct Payments
All of these allowances, credits and payments help to cover with overall the cost of providing care. The Attendance Allowance is specifically for those who are over the state pension age and need help with personal care, with two bands of payment available at either £53 per week or £79.15 per week.
Carer's Allowance can financially assist those who give care assistance totalling at least 35 hours per week. Those who provide care to people with disabilities can claim £59.75 per week to cover transport, food and other costs.
Carer's Credit, meanwhile, is a National Insurance Credit that someone who provides care services for at least 20 hours per week is eligible for. This credit ensures that carers' National Insurance records remain unblemished and that the carer is able to build up their basic and additional State Pension entitlements.
Direct Payments are paid into an individual's bank account by social services and are received instead of social care services. This allows people who receive care to buy care services for themselves, giving independence and choice when making care decisions.
Image credit: dafyddbach (flickr.com)]
Other financial help
Council tax reduction can also be applied for from the local council. VAT relief is available to all who have a disability or a long-term illness and can be claimed on products designed to aid mobility, such as stairlifts, ramps and adjustable beds. More information on the conditions that need to be met to claim VAT relief can be found here.
Mobility difficulties occur all the more frequently as we age and the leading voice for all things to do with aging is Age UK. Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged which emerged in 2009 to provide the UK's older population with a trustworthy institution that can voice their concerns on a national stage.
As well as fighting for the rights of older people and providing a valued opinion on government reform, Age UK also provides advice, news and products that can be of use to the ageing population. The Age UK website is the place to go for advice on making money go further, links to products such as insurance, energy, mobile phones and hearing aids and entertaining features, including Age UK's very own radio station: The Wireless.
A special section of their website is dedicated to those with mobility difficulties and staying independent at home, which is available here.
The British Healthcare and Trades Association is the largest and oldest body of its kind in the UK, and members of the BHTA must comply with its strict Code of Practice. Overseen by the Trading Standards Institute, this Code of Practice ensures that those who intend to purchase a mobility aid or assistive living device can do so with confidence.
Companies selling walk in showers and baths, stairlifts, scooters, wheelchairs and more who comply with the BHTA Code of Practice are able to display the BHTA logo on their websites and premises, allowing them to tell customers that their products and services meet the highest of standards. Before purchasing a mobility aid it is a good idea to head to the BHTA website and use the Find a Member tool to see which companies are officially registered with them.
Disabled/Senior railcards and access schemes
Railcards give cardholders a third off rail fares for select groups of people, which can save travellers with mobility difficulties a great deal of money. Two railcards could be relevant here: the Disabled Persons Railcard and the Senior Railcard.
The disabled railcard is available to all those who receive disability-related benefits, such as Personal Independence Payments. The railcard for older people is not just for those over the state pension age; cardholders simply have to be over the age of 60. The card must be carried on the train and can be used on any journey, except for travel within the London and South East area during the morning rush hour period.
There are also a number of access schemes around that help those with mobility difficulties get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Countryside Mobility is a not-for-profit mobility equipment hire scheme that works in partnership with a wide range of outdoor visitor attractions. Run by the charity Living Options Devon, it provides all-terrain mobility scooters and wheelchair accessible boats that are available for hire at more than 30 locations across South West England.
Similarly, the National Accessible Scheme, run by VisitEngland (the national tourist board), is making England more accessible through helping people find accommodation to suit their needs, independently assessed by trained assessors against demanding criteria. Ensuring that properties have such facilities as hand rails, ramps and level access showers, they can make sure that mobility restricted residents of the UK can find somewhere to stay that is as comfortable as their own home.
Ratings are split into three categories: mobility impaired and older people (which is signified by the image to the right), visually impaired and blind people, and hearing impaired and deaf people. VisitEngland also ensure that all accommodation properties and attractions in their National Quality Assessment Schemes are required to produce an Access Statement, available on request. These contain detailed information on a venue’s facilities and services so that guests are completely aware of the accessibility of the property.
Image Credits: dichohecho (flickr.com), StockMonkeys.com, Countryside Mobility, National Accessible Scheme.