Social care budgets and transport costs
Hi, I’m Zoe and I work on the scope helpline as a social care information officer.
Lots of people are contacting me with problems about financial assessments for social care budgets in relation to transport costs to day centres, education and recreational activities.
They are being told if they are in receipt of the mobility component of PIP or DLA that their benefits should cover the cost. It’s a massive issue and an example of disabled people being subject to ever more cuts.
This is the advice I give to people in this situation:
The test of eligibility is ‘Would the failure of the Council to provide transport result in an eligible need for services going unmet?’ If the answer is yes, then transport is an eligible need and should be accounted for in the personal budget and financial assessment.
See our guide about eligibility criteria under the Care Act
The statutory guidance on disability related expenditure (DRE) states transport costs can be taken into consideration when:
(xii) other transport costs necessitated by illness or disability, including costs of transport to day centres, over and above the mobility component of DLA or PIP, if in payment and available for these costs.
I am not legally trained, but my view is that transport costs should be covered in the personal budget and you should not have to claim them as DRE, however if the local authority won’t budge on this then they should consider it as DRE.
If your local authority refuses to change their position options are:
1) Make a formal complaint using the council’s complaints process
2) If unsuccessful at resolving the issue then either seek legal advice or take the case to the Local Government ombudsman service (the latest stats I came across are that 60% of cases are upheld when taken to the ombudsman)
Relevant ombudsman cases
In a recent case a council were forced to repay a mother after reducing transport funding to a day centre for her son
Local government Ombudsman ruling If a college is named in an EHCP
The Ombudsman's investigation found the council at fault for not following law and statutory guidance, which requires councils to provide free transport, where necessary, to enable young adults up to 25 attend their named college, and prevents councils making unreasonable demands of family carers.
I would urge anyone in this situation to challenge their local authority if they are told they must pay for transport costs out of their benefits and are told that such costs cannot be considered a disability related expense. If you feel you are being unfairly charged, please get in touch with us at the helpline for further guidance tel. 0808 800 3333 or email [email protected] .