Leading UK children's disability charity Newlife Foundation has welcomed support from MPs, including Jeremy Lefroy, for its campaign to amend an outdated piece of "nonsensical legislation" which affects disabled teenagers throughout the UK.
Earlier this month Cannock Chase MP Aidan Burley introduced a 10-minute Rule Motion, supported by Mr Lefroy, which highlighted the plight of disabled children who are currently denied access to the most appropriate wheelchairs due to existing weight and age restrictions.
Newlife – a leading disabled children’s charity based in Staffordshire – has been at the forefront of a campaign for change.
Mr Lefroy said: “This Bill has highlighted the need for a change in the regulations to give disabled children the best possible support they can have. I hope that the Government will look carefully at the regulations and support this simple change in the rules which will enhance the lives of thousands of children.”
Mr Burley’s Bill highlights how charities like Newlife are restricted from providing the most advanced equipment by the 1988 Road Traffic Act and the belief that statutory providers such as Primary Care Trusts use the law to avoid supplying the costly equipment, despite properly assessed needs.
Mr Burley said: "Wheelchair providers - usually primary care trusts (PCTs) or local authorities - have found a loophole in current law to avoid having to fund high-specification powered wheelchairs to both adults and children who need them."
The 10 Minute Rule Bill seeks to change the Road Traffic Act 1988 to increase the weight limit for the biggest, Class Three, wheelchairs from 150kg to 200kg and remove the minimum age limit of 14.
There were no speakers against the proposal it and will have its second reading on Friday 27 April. Importantly Maria Miller, Minster for Disabled People, and Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, were present to hear the proposal. The MPs acknowledged that such bills rarely get on the statute books but he remains hopeful that the widespread support received will prompt ministers to act accordingly.
MPs who supported the motion are: Anne Begg (Aberdeen South), Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay), Keith Vaz (Leicester East), Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), John Glen (Salisbury), Karen Bradley (Staffordshire Moorlands), Priti Patel (Withan), David Morris (Morecombe and Lunesdale), Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) and Robert Buckland (South Swindon).