Independence for disabled people hit hard by funding closure

A vital fund which enables 18,000 of the most severely disabled people in the UK to live independently was closed by the Government as of 30 June 2015.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) will now be transferred to local councils to manage but there are concerns the money will not be rightly administered, as local authorities are under no obligation to ring fence the fund. According to a recent BBC News report, less than a third of local authorities have intentions to utilise the money to provide care for the most severely disabled.

As it currently stands, existing recipients of ILF will continue to receive funding until they are reassessed and given a new care plan under the Care Act. However, the substantially higher threshold / criteria could mean a significant number of recipients may no longer qualify for previous levels of care support. The uncertainty is said to be causing anxiety amongst existing beneficiaries and their families as they await a decision from their local authorities.

There has been widespread opposition to the closure of the fund, from disability charities and parliamentarians, since it was announced in 2010. More recently, several protests were held outside the Houses of Parliament in a last ditch attempt to prevent the fund’s closure, or at the very least, ensure local authorities ring fence the fund.

The £260 million fund was originally introduced by the Conservative government approximately 30 years ago and has since enabled tens of thousands of disabled people to have a greater choice over how they manage their lives.

Stephen Springer MBE, Policy Advisor at Livability and a recipient of the fund for 22 years, said:

‘We regret the closure and the potential upheaval it causes recipients. This is especially the case in England where a number of local authorities are not required to ring fence the funding. Both Wales and Scotland respectively have attempted to mitigate the impact of the ILF closure; clearly demonstrating a commitment to protecting the rights of disabled people to live as they choose. It remains to be seen what the real impact of this decision will have over the coming months and years to come.’

Listen to Stephen Springer share his views on BBC Three Counties Radio (Stephen’s interview begins at 43:30).