As part of the ‘One Month Before Heartbreak’ campaign, Southampton Centre for Independent Living would like to express our anger and disappointment at the barrage of countless attacks faced by Disabled People, which brings into question the future of Independent Living. This not only flies in the face of Disabled People’s involvement over the last 30-35 years, but also undermines the good work of previous governments!
Disabled People are facing a triple pronged attack with the closure of Independent Living Fund, the reform of Disability Living Allowance and increases in charging for Local Authority Social Care.
The announcement in December 2010 that the ILF will be abolished by 2015 is further confirmation that the Coalition Government shows no commitment to Independent Living and equality despite the Government telling us otherwise.
User Led organisations are extremely disappointed that despite policy agreements about Co-production we have not been consulted or involved. Therefore the views and ideas of people who use these provisions have been totally excluded. This was confirmed when service users from Hampshire’s Personalisation Expert User Panel (PEP) met with the Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller on the 8 December 2010 and were informed that “no decisions about the future of the ILF had been made, and consultation would commence in the New Year”. We do not believe the timing of the announcement (just before Christmas) to abolish the ILF is coincidental.
Disability Living Allowance is a welfare benefit paid to Disabled People to help them manage the extra costs they face, particularly regarding care and mobility. The government’s aim to cut the annual cost of DLA by 20% makes many Disabled People fear that this vital benefit will be targeted on a very small group of individuals whilst others, with less visible impairments or fluctuating needs, will receive no support at all. The Government has already said it will stop paying the mobility component of DLA to Disabled People living in residential care, a move that will further prevent people having any autonomy over their transport requirements.
Despite a large number of Disability organisations criticising this reform, it appears that the reform being supported by both the Labour Party as well as the Coalition Government.
The consultation on DLA reform runs until the 14 February so there’s still time to make your views known
If all this wasn’t enough, many local authorities in the UK, including Hampshire, are consulting on whether to increase charging for social care services to Disabled People.
Disabled People and there organisations want to work with both local and central government to reform services and provisions that enable Independent Living – we will not be pushed to one side, we will not go away, and will continue to campaign for equality and human rights for all Disabled People.