Abolishing the £200 contribution for Disabled Student Allowance
3rd April 2018 by Catia Neves
In 2015 the Government introduced a £200 self-contribution for disabled students who are in receipt of Disabled Student Allowances (DSAs) for equipment required for them to study independently despite their disability. This contribution is not means tested, cannot be added to the student loan, and must be paid up front before the student can receive essential equipment.
Since this introduction the number of students taking up their equipment has dropped by 29.6% even though the number of students applying and being assessed as eligible for DSA has actually increased. A recent survey of students in receipt of the DSA has found that the 70% of students that failed to take up their equipment even though they had been approved cite affordability as the sole reason.
DSA is recognised globally as the gold standard in support for disabled students in Higher Education. It has led to students achieving outcomes that would not have been possible without the support of the DSA, and moving into successful careers that in return yield significantly higher tax take for the exchequer. The DSA is a vital scheme for those who need it and in reality it is cost neutral to the taxpayer.
Information received following a Freedom of Information request shows that students with Specific Learning Difficulties and Mental Health Issues are the groups most significantly affected by this contribution. This clearly amounts to discrimination toward young disabled students, especially those from disadvantaged and lower socio-economic backgrounds. DSA was designed to support all students who could benefit from them, but these essential supports are now only available to those who can afford them.
There were roughly 28,000 students across the country in receipt of DSA equipment, as such, this is an issue affecting 43 disabled people in every constituency across the United Kingdom.
The British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) is leading a campaign to have the £200 self-contribution reviewed, and a solution implemented that would allow disabled students to get the support they deserve by having the £200 added to their student loan. Here is a detailed briefing document that outlines the true impact of this policy and simple solutions proposed by BATA:
If you would like to contribute to the abolition of the £200 contribution, you can write to your local MP via https://www.theyworkforyou.com/ using the information above. Ask your MP to contact the Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, on your behalf and support a review of this policy and the implementation of the proposals put forward by BATA, to ensure no disabled student is left behind due to their ability to pay for essential equipment.