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Most councils will not ring fence ILF resources

08 April 2015

DR UK Freedom of Information requests were sent to all local authorities in England with social care responsibilities over the second week in January 2015.

Analysis of Disability Right’s UK’s FOI (freedom of information) requests to local authorities in England on the transfer of the independent living fund.

Disability Rights UK opposes closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) unless and until an effective alternative approach is in place that really enables independent living of people with high support needs. In our view, all disability policy changes should be judged against the acid test of whether they enable independent living in practice. Of course the ILF only served some disabled people, it has not been perfect – so it would be possible to devise a stronger approach, enabling more people to live the lives they choose. But current plans do not convince us that they meet the acid ‘independent living in practice’ test.

Our second freedom of information inquiries to local authorities have found that most do not have robust  plans to ring-fence resources for social care support to people who would have received ILF support. As human beings we all have rights to live where we choose, to participate in our community – but without support, disabled people are locked out of those basic rights and opportunities. This is completely unacceptable.

Four questions were asked:

  1. Will the monies transferred from the closure of the ILF to your local authority be ring fenced to existing ILF recipients in your area?
  2. Now that guidance is available in respect to the Care Act 2014 and the ADASS Code of Practice in respect to the Transfer Review Programme please can you let us know:
    • How many ILF users are there in your area and how many of these have received a person centred outcome focussed transfer review?
    • How many ILF users have you not been able to meet in your area?
    • Who is the named individual in your area to act as a point of contact for ILF users?
    • Which organisation(s) are you signposting ILF users to for advice and advocacy arrangements?
  3. How are you involving disabled people in your transfer arrangements?
  4. What plans do you have for monitoring how well the agreed outcomes for existing ILF recipients in your area are being met post transfer?

Responses: 96 (106 responded to our request in June 2014)

No response: 56

Total: 152

Ring-Fencing

Local authorities who answered ‘yes’ to ring fencing transferred funds to ILF recipients: 24

Bedford, Camden, Dudley, Durham, Gateshead, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Herefordshire, Hillingdon, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Leeds, Lewisham, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Redbridge, Shropshire, Somerset, Southwark, Stoke on Trent, Tower Hamlets, West Berkshire, Westminster, Wokingham

At the time of the last FOI requests in June 2014 10 authorities reported that ILF monies would be ring fenced to existing recipients.  If those who responded last time but who did not respond this time are added (assuming their position is still the same) then the number of those who will ring fence funding is 29

The additional authorities are Bristol, City of London, Hartlepool, North Somerset, and Oldham.

Although on the face of it, it may appear to be good news for ILF recipients that the number of authorities that will ring fence has increased since last June a note of caution needs to be made.  A number of authorities are ring –fencing only because they will not get around to carrying out assessments before the transfer.  This includes Camden, Dudley, Haringey, Hillingdon, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets.  For ILF recipients in these areas the uncertainty about what will happen to their care packages will continue.

Local authorities where no decision has been taken: 22

Even though the transfer date of 30th June is fast approaching there are still authorities who are yet to make a decision how the money transferring from the ILF will be used, again resulting in uncertainty for current ILF recipients living in those areas which include:

Barnet, Barking and Dagenham, Blackburn with Darwin, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Brent, Bury, Calderdale, Essex, Havering, Kent, Kirklees, Lambeth, Merton, Northumberland, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sefton, Southampton, Staffordshire and Wandsworth.

There are a further 15 authorities who stated last June that no decision had been made who did not reply to the FOI request this time.  They may or may not have made a decision - it is not possible to say.  Part of the reason stated by some local authorities last June for not having made a decision concerned the lack of availability of guidance from central Government.  Guidance on transfer of the ILF is now available as part of the guidance underpinning the Care Act and the ILF itself has been conducting meetings outlining transfer arrangements with all local authorities.  Local authorities now have all the information available to them to be able to reach a decision.

Do ILF Recipients know what will happen to their Care Package post transfer?

From the responses to question 2 although the ILF has carried out outcome focused reviews for all recipients, about a quarter of them have taken place without a representative from the relevant local authority which is an opportunity missed.  The original intention from the ILF was to make the transfer as seamless as possible by holding joint reviews with the local authority thus easing anxiety about what would happen after the transfer.  Unfortunately even where there has been a joint review, it appears local authorities still need to carry out their own independent aassessment.  Although there is evidence of good progress in some local authorities many plan to not complete their assessments until the end of May, only one month before transfer.  A quarter are reporting that they are waiting for the implementation of the Care Act in April.  Reviews will be rushed if they are to take place just before the transfer and could cause difficulties particular for people employing their own personal assistants if the care package Is reduced.  Please see detailed answers from each local authority in the spreadsheets accompanying this report.

Access to Independent Advice and Support

All except five local authorities report that they are signposting ILF recipients to third sector organisations in their area. 

Involving Disabled People

The responses to the question of how local authorities are involving disabled people in their ILF transfer plans are disappointing.  From the responses received, only 8 local authorities say they have involved their joint planning boards or, as in  the case of Hampshire, set up a specific group to plan the transfer right from the outset.  10 local authorities are either holding public consultations or have/are organising information events for ILF recipients but these are more from the perspective of ‘we will answer your questions’ rather than planning the transfer alongside disabled people.

Monitoring Plans

Just over two-thirds of local authorities have no specific plans for monitoring how well the agreed outcomes for existing ILF recipients are being met post transfer.  Other authorities have identified that they need to put in place specific measures for those transferring from the ILF.  10 local authorities are planning to review whether outcomes are being met at an early stage post transfer – between 6 weeks and 6 months.  1 local authority, Kent, is establishing a specific panel to consider the care packages of ILF recipients and how well agreed outcomes are being met. 

The intention behind asking the question was a concern about whether ILF recipients might not be able to lead their lives in the same way post transfer and the implications for independent living.  What does come across from the responses is that local authorities have a concern about the impact on their budgets.  16 of the responses indicate that they will be adapting their IT systems to provide separate monitoring of care packages that are being transferred and the implications this might have for future budgeting. 

Further Information

Please see the accompanying 3 tables.

Table 1 - FOI reference number, ringfencing, how many users.

Table 2 - No's with pc transfer review, no's not seen, named individual.

Table 3 - Named organisation, involvement, monitoring.

See also our news item of 7 August 2014 relating to our first FOI request to local authorities - http://disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2014/august/most-councils-will-not-ringfence-ilf-resources

If you have any queries regarding the ILF transfer please contact our self-directed support helpline on 0330 995 0404 or email selfdirectedsupport@disabilityrightsuk.org