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Stairlift Controversy in England

I’m constantly talking about elevators in this blog, but there is another very important mode of transportation for handicapped or otherwise incapacitated people – stairlifts. You probably see stairlifts all the time, especially in buildings with small flights of stairs – anywhere from 4 steps to a full flight of stairs. Many places like colleges, malls, hospitals and a host of other locations have stairlifts to aid those in wheelchairs move up and down floors where elevators aren’t available or are too short to require an elevator. Stairlifts operate in peoples’ homes as well, when those who utilize wheelchairs are rendered immobile by staircases inside and outside of homes.

In some areas, insurance companies work with clients to help pay for home stairlifts and in others, the local government actually pays entirely for the cost of a stairlift. This is the case in Oxfordshire County in England, but that may change after the summer – according to Banbury Cake:

“The authority pays the bill for the stairlifts, which are fitted in the homes of disabled people. But in a move it hopes will save it about £300,000 a year, it will shift responsibility for repairs and call outs for the equipment to the lift owners. Call-outs for repairs can cost up to £200 a time.”

Apparently this change will save the county council 300,000 pounds a year, which isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket in a tough economy. However, this is not the view of the stairlift owners, who are claiming victimization from the local government:

“Oxfordshire County Council said there are 793 people supported with the servicing and maintenance of stairlifts, a third more than in 2003 when there was 604. Now only the ‘most vulnerable’ will have their lifts paid for, but it was unable to define how many people would qualify.”

With an approximate upkeep cost of almost 300 pounds a year, do you think these citizens should have to pay for their stairlifts?




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