A Written Ministerial Statement is being published today. It states that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will be closed in 2015 (link to follow once it’s on the Parliament website).
This has been coming (and it appears the Sundar Mirror yesterday was right). I blogged back in June that the ILF was essentially closed for business.
But that doesn’t make today less of a shock. Others will highlight what a disaster this will be for the 21,000 ILF recipients, for the simple fact that it is. When taken in combination with the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance, it’s nothing short of an out-and-out attack on disabled people.
And to know who we’re talking about here, note that the ILF delivers financial support to disabled people in order to advance standards of independent living. In order to access ILF, an individual must already get at least £340pw support from a Council and get the higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, as well as have less than £23k in savings/capital.
This means that ILF is focused on those people with some of the highest and most complex support needs there are.
Even when it had significant reputation problems in this area, the government can’t speak with any sort of credibility on the topic of disability equality any more.
What the government says on disability issues is a world away from the reality of its actions.
(As an aside I understand in the Written Statement the government has said it will hold a consultation “next year” to determine what will happen to the existing users on ILF post-2015. That’s a number of months for ILF recipients to worry, without even having the opportunity to have their say on the cut. It also gives the impression that the government’s overriding concern is to simply save the ILF’s £359m budget, and even then from 2015 onwards.)
Update to come later when I have more information. Update (7pm): The statement is now available from the ILF website. As I wrote earlier, it confirms the ILF won’t exist past 2015 and the existing ILF users cannot be assured of receiving the level of support they currently get post-2015.
In the same breath as saying the government is committed to disability equality and choice and control for disabled people, the statement says that ILF is “discretionary” and is “financially unsustainable”.
Instead, support for people with some of the highest and most complex impairments will most likely to be left to that well-known abundance of public money, local government.