Both Disabled People and Local Authorities were shocked by the Independent Living Funds’ decision to raise the amount that local authorities have to contribute towards a person’s support package before they are entitled to ILF funding.
From April 1 2008, new applicants will need to be receiving at least £320 per week of local authority input. This is an increase from the current threshold of £200 per week.
Existing applicants will not be affected unless they request an increase in their support needs. In this case the ILF will expect the local authority to increase their input to at least £320 per week. Existing applicants will be able to request an increase due to an increase in the cost of the support e.g. a change in the hourly rate without being subject to the new £320 per week threshold.
The ILF are also tightening up their rules on backdating payments as well as prioritising applicants in paid employment and applicants on Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance and Pension Credit Guarantee.
Of course, many Disabled People are asking why the ILF has made this sudden decision. According to the ILF, since summer 2006, there has been a 27% rise in applications and therefore a change in policy was necessary, The ILF also claim that 53% of current applications already meet the new £320 per week threshold. They also point out that the threshold of £200 per week has remained the same for the past 15 years.
Local authorities have been sent reeling from the news and some local authorities have prioritised new ILF applications in the hope of beating the April 1 deadline.