Despite intensive lobbying from Disabled People from across the country, the government finally announced yesterday the permenant closure of the Independent Living Fund.
The Independent Living Fund currently supports 21,000 Disabled People to live independently in the community. This funding has enabled many of these Disabled People to gain employment, further their education, and become active citizens. Something the current government say they want to encourage.
The Independent Living Fund will remain for existing applicants until the end of this Parliament.
In a statement Maria Miller stated ‘ It remains the priority of the Independent Living Fund and the Government to safeguard the position of the existing recipients of the Fund and we will:
• In 2011, following the publication of the report by the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, carry out a formal consultation. This will inform decisions on determining how best to continue to support existing users of the ILF in to a social care system based on the principles of personalised budgets, the findings of the Commission and recognising the importance of the support that ILF users have built their lives around. We will consult fully with disabled people, particularly current users of the Independent Living Fund and their families, local authorities and other interested parties, including the devolved administrations;’
SCIL is extremely concerned about the development. At a meeting with Maria Miller only last week, Personalisation Expert Panel members were assured that no decision on the future of the ILF would be taken before a proper consultation was held.
It seems clear now that the government are set on winding the ILF down and pushing the responsibility on to local authorities. Ironically this was announced on the same day that cuts to local authority funding from central government was announced.
Disabled People Against Cuts claim that ‘Disabled people have had every single support targeted for ‘reform’, cut or scrapped completely….’
It certainly feels like Disabled People are facing a ‘winter of discontent’.