Disabled people with the highest support needs have been left in fear and distress as they face the prospect of being denied the right to have Christmas in their own homes following a government decision announced this week to abolish a key source of independent living support.
The government decision to close the Independent Living Fund and instead devolve responsibility to local authorities follows a consultation that disabled people claim is unlawful and on which an urgent hearing has been scheduled by the High Court to go ahead on 13/14 March 2013.
Kevin Caulfield Chair Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts said, “The announcement of the closure of the ILF is yet another nail in the coffin of the increasing numbers of disabled people being discarded into isolation, social exclusion, deteriorating health and premature death. This is more evidence that we are so far from being all in this together.”
Whereas support received through the ILF has transformed thousands of lives, local authorities are not able to provide the same level or range of support through their current systems. With central funding to local authorities being cut this can only get worse.
Current ILF recipient Jenny Hurst said she “can’t bear to think of a return to life” without the opportunities the ILF has given her. “Before I was referred for funding from the ILF I received a package of 4 hours a day, one hour for getting me up/showered and breakfasted, one hour for house work and lunch, one hour for supper and an hour to do the “put to bed”. In between times I couldn’t get a drink or use the toilet- let alone do anything meaningful with my life.” With support funded by the ILF she was able to go to university, get a full time job and become a Trustee of a charity.
ILF recipient Anne Novis who received an MBE for services to the community, said ”I employ five PA’s, their jobs will be at risk as I know and have been told I will receive less funds … from my local authority”. She added “I definitely will not be able to contribute to society, have my grandchildren over to stay, or even have a life worth living.”
The government’s decision to push ahead with their plans comes in spite of overwhelming opposition from disabled people and their families. Local Authorities have widely expressed concerns that without ring fencing there will be a loss of support for existing ILF users and for some individuals no option but to go into residential care. Given the current surge of abuse revelations concerning people placed in institutional settings such as those associated with the Winterbourne View case, it is distressing that the government is nevertheless abandoning the right for disabled people who require round the clock support to live in the community in a home of their own and with choice and control over their lives.
Notes to Editors
1) Inclusion London is a pan-impairment organisation promoting equality for London’s Deaf and disabled people.
2) Disabled People against Cuts is a national campaign led by disabled people to oppose the attacks on disabled people’s human rights and independent living being carried out under the guise of the austerity agenda.
3) The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up in 1988 to provide the additional funding disabled people needed to live at home when the alternative was residential care.
4) The Fund which was permanently closed to new applicants in December 2010 will be shut down completely from 31 March 2015.5) The action by the Westminster government contravenes article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People on independent living and goes against the principle of the Convention as well as against the European Convention on Human Rights
For more information:
Campaigns and Communications Officer
Inclusion London Tel: 07505 144371
Kevin Caulfield: 07899 752877; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Hurst: email@example.com
Solicitors representing the claimants involved in the legal challenge:
Scott-Moncrieff &Associates (Diane Astin/Kate Whittaker)
Office 7, 19 Greenwodd Place
London NW5 1LB Tel: 020 7485 5588/07792 700825
Deighton Pierce Glynn (Louise Whitfield)
8 Union Street
London SE1 1SZ Tel: 020 7407 0007