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Farewell Independent Living?

18 December 2012

The Government has announced its intention to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in April 2015 [1]. The scheme currently supports over 19,000 disabled people with the highest needs to live independently.

The Government plans to transfer ILF funding to Local Authorities and to the devolved administrations. Disability Rights UK believes that this decision risks disabled people’s independence and opportunity to live with families, friends and in communities and could see a return to obligatory residential care home placements [2].

Liz Sayce OBE, Disability Rights UK Chief Executive, says:

“We have a real crisis in care with local authorities restricting access to support for many disabled people. We are extremely concerned that the Government is now adding to the enormous pressure on local authorities, disabled people and carers without taking steps to resolve the funding crisis”.

We believe the Government must clarify that a sustainable, sufficient funding system is in place for disabled people currently supported by the ILF as well as other disabled people with high support needs.

Disabled people raised significant concerns about the Government’s approach – including the likely breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sadly, the Government has not addressed these important issues in its response.

 Liz Sayce adds:

“As the plans stand, we fear councils will continue to deny disabled people, older people and carers support as well as increase charges for essential services which will drive people deeper into poverty. We also fear this is a retrograde step, watering down rights to independent living and ability to live in disabled people’s own homes”.

Disability Rights UK is saddened that the Government response suggests it would be unfair to retain the ILF for existing users as it is closed to new applicants. The Government closed the ILF to new applicants unexpectedly in 2010 and denied disabled people access to support to live independently – including for young disabled people who find, for example, navigating council processes and support to access education or employment opportunities most difficult.

We believe the Government must postpone the closure of the Independent Living Fund until a fair and sustainable funding system is in place for care services [3].

Notes

[1] See: http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm84/8420/8420.pdf

[2] Some councils have already consulted on mandatory care home placements for disabled people with higher needs. For one example, see: http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/pdf/01-Maximum-Expenditure-Policy-Consultation-Document.pdf

[3] See our consultation response