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18 March 2009

Long campaign to help blind ends in victory

After a long campaign, the Government yesterday finally accepted a landmark change to the law that will benefit over 40,000 registered blind people across the country.

An amendment to the Welfare reform Bill, backed by City MP John Barrett, was last night accepted by the Government to extend the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance to the blind.

Until now, those with severe sight loss had not been eligible for the higher rate unless they were also deaf. The change will amount to around an extra £30 a week to help with travel and other mobility costs.

Edinburgh West MP John Barrett, a long-time supporter of the campaign, welcomed the move calling the issue “a point of principle”. The Edinburgh West MP had tabled a commons motion calling for the change in the law earlier this year.

Mr Barrett said:

“Last year I was fortunate enough to address a lobby of over a thousand blind people from across the country at Parliament. All they were demanding that day was fairness and that is what we have finally delivered today.

“Being blind curtails your ability to act independently in the same way as being in a wheelchair – and yet until now, those with severe visual impairments have not been eligible for the same level of support.

“For many blind people, the biggest struggle they face is getting to and from work as well as to the shops and to meet friends. The £17.65 a week that is currently offered is pittance considering the fact that many blind people require the use of a taxi to get around.

“There has long been overwhelming public support for this change. RNIB who have led the campaign deserve tremendous credit for forcing the government finally doing the right thing.”

RNIB

RNIB

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.