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Blind Candidate highlights threat of government plans on Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)
Friday
6 June 2014
 

E
mily Brothers, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, has spoken out about the government’s proposed ‘modernisation’ of the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), calling on the government to ensure equal access for disabled students in Sutton and Cheam.
Currently, there are 13,240 students in London receiving DSA and the National Union of Students has warned that their support is at risk after the government announced a so-called ‘modernisation’ of the crucial benefit.
Ms Brothers, who is blind and was amongst the earliest recipients of DSA, said:
“I was able to pay for some modest support with research and reading print documents. I wouldn’t have been so able to gain a degree and a successful 25 years career which followed without this kind of help.
"The Coalition’s plans for DSA risk reducing the quality of support available to disabled students and leave vast swathes of inefficiency in the system. They should listen to the NUS and think again."
Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow spokesman for higher education said:
“Disabled students have already been hit hard by this government tripling tuition fees. Now there’s a new risk that ‘modernisation’ of Disabled Students Allowance will make things even worse. This government now needs to listen to the warnings of the National Union of Students and guarantee us that any change will help not hurt disabled students fulfill their dreams to study at university.”

Notes to editors:
1. Written Ministerial Statement: HE Student Support (Monday 7 April 2014):
http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/April%202014/7%20April%202014/1.BIS-HE-Student-Support.pdf

2. Under existing DSA arrangements, a student can receive up to £5,161 a year for specialist equipment such as laptops and voice recognition software and £20,520 for non-medical helpers such as note-takers and library support, plus up to £1,724 for general costs incurred because of their disability, such as travel expenses. The responsibility for meeting many of these costs will now pass to universities, without any extra funding. From September 2015 DSA will only provide for support for students with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, if their needs are "complex", although the definition of this, and who decides it, remains unclear.

3. Media Contact – emily.brothers@btinternet.com / www.emilybrothers.com / Mob 0776 506 0864.
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