Disabled Students Allowances

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2015 National Disabled Members' Conference
3 July 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference is concerned about the changes to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) announced the Government are proposing. When these were first announced in April the Ministers for Universities said he was announcing ‘measures to minimise DSA’ what he actually meant was cuts that will be devastating to disabled members.

DSA isn’t just for University Students. It supports college students, student nurses, professional qualifications and Open University course. Disabled Members who are either full time students or undertaking part time courses linked to career progression or development will suffer.

DSA pays for laptops, specialist equipment, support workers and help with travel costs among other things but most of this will change. Providers will be expected to change the way they deliver courses but this won’t work. A change that helps one person can make things worse for others. DSA will no longer pay for standard ICT. When you are disabled there is no such thing as standard ICT. It is essential to completing the course. Not providing a laptop is like a tax on being disabled. These changes are another barrier to stopping Disabled Members accessing learning and development opportunities and achieving their full potential.

The changes will also have a detrimental impact on our members who work in higher education. They will have to implement the changes and in some cases provide the support disabled students to participate fully in courses without any additional resources. This can only increase the stress and pressure on disabled students, the staff providing the service and already stretched budgets.

Before the election two disabled students fought back. The changes won’t affect them but they felt they had to stand up for disabled students who will follow them. They won the right to apply for a Judicial Review. Worried about the results of the election the then Coalition Government announced a further consultation. But now the election is over the reality is they aren’t consulting disabled people on these changes just providers and so called experts.

These changes will be devastating if they are implemented but they have been delayed so it is not too late to influence the decision. Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to work with the NEC to:

1.Raise awareness of the effect these changes will have on all disabled students including Disabled Members undertaking job related studies;

2.Campaign for the consultation to be extended to include disabled people generally and disabled students in particular; and

3.Lobby Government to reverse the decision before the changes are implemented