Dec 312015
 

Independent Living Fighting Fund – donations needed now to support Disabled people hit by the closure of the ILF fight cuts to vital day to day support

DPAC is asking for donations for an Independent Living Fighting Fund to support individual Disabled people to challenge cuts to their social care support packages following closure of the ILF. The ILF campaigners fought fiercely against the closure, taking their protest right to the doors of the House of Commons chamber, exposing to the world the disgraceful way the UK government is treating its Disabled citizens. The Fund finally closed on 30 June but the fight is far from over. Disabled people hit by the closure need solidarity now more than ever as the cuts we all fought so hard to prevent start to kick in.

The government said the closure of the ILF was a transfer not a cut (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/11/impact-of-changes-to-disability-benefits). This was a lie. Some notable Councils such as Hammersmith and Fulham have committed to protecting people’s support packages in the short-term but in other areas serious cuts are already starting to happen as former ILF recipients are re-assessed to determine the level of social care support their Local Authorities will continue to fund. In Waltham Forest for example nearly 90% of former ILF recipients have had their support package cut as a result of the closure of the ILF, with more than a quarter having a cut of 50% or more (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/independent-living-fund-shocking-drop-in-support-after-ilf-closure/).

Cuts of this level mean robbing Disabled people of independence, dignity and equality. It also places people at risk as tragically evidenced by the case of Amanda Richard (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3266218/Disabled-mother-died-house-fire-24-hour-care-cut.html) who died in a house fire in Coventry after her support hours were cut. Forcing use of incontinence pads on Disabled people who aren’t incontinent is emerging as one common tactic, as is blanket removal of night-time support and increasing expectations on, often elderly, family members and neighbours. One former ILF recipient was told that if she wanted to continue attending her community choir, other members of the choir could assist with her physical needs in place of needing paid support hours. The reassessment of another made a recommendation for behaviour therapy in order to cope with the removal of their night-time support following closure of the ILF.

Disabled campaigners warned that the closure of the ILF signalled the end of independent living for Disabled people. Local Authority administered care and support has proven itself unable to consistently provide Disabled people with adequate support to live, work and study in the community with the same chances as non-Disabled people. The current crisis in social care funding means things are only getting worse as Councils consult on further cuts to community support (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/council-is-trying-to-push-through-care-cuts-without-proper-scrutiny/), meanwhile investing in the building of new ‘super care homes’ to house Disabled people en masse (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/threat-to-independent-living-as-council-plots-raid-on-high-cost-care/).

Having lost the legal challenge to quash the decision to close the ILF it is now imperative that support is available for each former ILF recipient at risk of cuts to essential support. There are a number of dedicated solicitors committed to providing legal advice, however changes to legal aid mean that some Disabled people are no longer eligible yet not in a situation where they can fund the legal action they need to challenge what is happening. It is also true that we cannot reach every former ILF recipient affected and we also know that many are too frightened to speak out for fear of losing what support they have got. Legal challenges are an important way of testing out the rights of former ILF recipients under the Care Act 2014 and making examples out of Local Authorities that are not meeting their legal duties.

This is why we need a fighting fund available to support legal challenges by former ILF recipients not eligible for legal aid.

What you can do:

  • Donate to the fighting fund. We have cases that need to be actioned in early January so the sooner you can give the better. To donate go through DPAC’s paypal or contact us via mail@dpac.uk.net for details for a BACS transfer. Include “ILF FF” as the reference.
  • Circulate this post to your friends, family and fellow campaigners asking them to donate too.
  • Donate through gofundme at https://www.gofundme.com/9up7iw

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Jun 302015
 

 With thanks to Kate B Published on Jun 30, 2015

TRANSCRIPT

00.00 – 00.19

Today is a very, very sad and tragic day and I think some of us are starting to cry up the front here, because this has been a long campaign and it has been so important to so many people because it means so much, but this isn’t the end and I think what last Wednesday showed is that disabled people are strong when we unite with our allies, we fight back and we give them hell.

00.20

Save the ILF!

00.32

Whoa boy, Whoa.
I come in peace with my horse to save the ILF. We are fighting for independent living for disabled people in the UK in 2015. Can you believe that?

No.

We have had enough. The Independent Living Fund closes tomorrow and we are not going away. We are going to fight on.

1.05

The ILF has given me freedom. It has given me indpendence, to live my life the way I choose without being reliant on friends or family. Without being stuck to a regimented regime of getting up in the morning when it suits other people, to go to bed at 9 o’clock, I was 22 and I had to go to bed at nine o’clock, can you imagine. I was told when I could go to the toilet, once a day at one o’clock, if I wasn’t there on time then tough, I’d have to wait until a later call that evening. It’s just not just me, it’s thousands of people out there who are subjected to this.

1.39

This is from Leanne. Hi all, I wish I could be with you all today but unfortunately, I can’t but please know that I am with you all in spirit, this is not the end, it is just the beginning.

1.54

SINGING

2.07

There used to be a time when governments, particularly when the ILF came in when they were able to at least talk about independent living with a straight face and now when they do it’s very much with a forked tongue. When the ILF closes today, it is more than just the closure of a fund. I think it signifies very much the end of an idea and that idea was that society was very much prepared to meet its responsibilities to make sure that equality of opportunity was something more than words. And we took tangible steps like the Independent Living Fund which got people real lives beyond looking out the window and watching the world pass them by.

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Jun 302015
 

It is often said that the Queen is special because she has two birthdays. But in fact, there are another 18,000 people who have two birthdays: the day they were born, and the day they received their first ILF payment.

My first ILF birthday was in 1988, when the Independent Living Fund was introduced. For people with high support needs, it was a great birthday, changing our lives overnight: we became part of our communities, went to college, got jobs, made friends, and generally did the things that non-disabled people take for granted. I met Mike and Darren who have become not only my personal assistants but also life-long friends.

ILF was a springboard for a new life, whereas Direct Payments are a safety net. Direct payments help you out of bed in the morning. ILF gave you a reason to do so. My fear is that we are going back to the days without hope or purpose.

In 1964, I became disabled. Not by being involved in an accident or being ill. I became disabled with one simple sentence from a consultant: “Mr and Mrs Punton, I am sorry to have to tell you but your child has got cerebral palsy.” From that moment, society believed that I had no purpose or future and prescribed special school followed by a life sentence in an institution. My parents disagreed, and I remember my Dad saying, “well, it is not rocket science that you shouldn’t let other people govern what you do.” And my Dad should know, because he was a rocket scientist!

But even so, I was still forced to live the life that society prescribed.

Then, in 1988, three things happened. Thirdly, I got my first job. Secondly, I moved into my first flat. Firstly, and probably most importantly, I applied and was accepted for ILF.

Without the first, I am sure the other two would not have been achievable. The ILF changed my life. It gave me access to the wider community of Birmingham and beyond. It allowed me to meet fellow like-minded people who taught me how to see myself in a different light and introduced me to the concept of social justice. It allowed me to work, start my own community interest company, and empower other people. I even stood as a candidate for parliament at the last election. Fortunately, the wisdom of the people prevailed! But because of ILF and the British democratic process, it is possible for me to sit here and speak to you. The question is, will Robert Punton the younger be able to do the same?

ILF has changed our lives, and how we see life. I am desperately sad that the decision of 2010 meant that an opportunity open to all was suddenly closed, which has led to it being labelled elitist. That was not the original intent or purpose.

On the 19th June 2015, we received our final instalments of ILF.  My concern, and the concern of thousands like me, is that come the first of August, the restrictions of the new definition of community care, will not allow me to continue to participate in my community and I will find myself returning to the lifestyle of pre-1988. If you will allow me a bit of poetic licence, I do not wish to return to the shadows of society but want to help light my community.

I would like to finish with a quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery “The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate.”

Please allow me and many like me the opportunity to participate.

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:19
Jun 302015
 

Reposted  from www.frameworkinclusion.uk with thanks

Today (30th June 2015) the Independent Living Fund is officially closed at midnight by a heartless Conservative Government –the working concept of independent living is effectively silenced. A fine campaign was, and will continue to be fought by ILF users and Disabled People against Cuts. On the 24th June ILF users and DPAC stormed the parliament in scenes previously unwitnessed in the British Parliament, but the fight began a long time before that day.  The fight for independent living for disabled people has been ongoing for decades; the fight to #saveilf began in 2010 when DPAC asked those affected by the closure to new users to come forward for a court case against the Government.

Disabled people have always had to fight for their human rights and equality. People marvel at the number of demos and direct actions that have been carried out, but its what disabled people have always needed to do. The ILF campaign has been a huge success in alerting the public, the press and TV nationally and internationally to the intense cruelty of a Government who declare they will support those in greatest need and simultaneously close the very efficient ILF which was doing just that. The closure makes no economic sense ILF had running costs of 2% while cash starved local authorities have an average of 16% running costs. On the same day as the closure a #disability confident event was being run in Swansea –this is beyond ironic and highlights the theatre of duplicity that this Government engage in. While ILF users face cuts in support, sometimes of up to 70% or face the fear of being institutionalised, while they face the loss of jobs, staff, PAs, education and life-our Government preaches #disabilityconfident .

We want to pay homage to all those that protested on the streets and online to #saveILF, as many others have said – this is not over- we go on fighting!  We will take back independent living on our terms so that it can never taken from us again- that work begins now.

It is a sad day today, but it also one of pride for the dignity, force and dedication disabled people and our allies have shown in the fight for ILF- the fight for independent living will continue, the continued exposure of what the Conservative Government have done to disabled people will be shouted loud and clear as we join with more and more allies in solidarity against the evil that is being done to us under the myth of austerity -our rage like our strength will grow till the human rights we deserve are ours.

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015.  On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured:  A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015. On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured: A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

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 Posted by at 18:03
Jun 282015
 

On 30th June, the day the ILF closes, ILF recipients, campaigners and Allies will meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect Disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online (supported by the brilliant video made by the stars of Coronation Street) and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera.

After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera will lead a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality.

But this isn’t theatre… It’s real and it’s our lives.

Join us in person or show your support on social media with the hashtag #SaveILF, to say “Today marks the closure of the ILF. This terrible action is wrong but the battle to protect our right to Independent Living will go on. For disabled people and for everyone who cares about fairness and social justice.”

Meet 11.30am outside Downing Street.

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Jun 252015
 

Freedom of Information requests asking the following questions were sent out on 15th April to 151 English Local Authorities:

Q1 Will you be ring fencing the lF money passed to you to: –
A) Individual ILF users
B) Adult Social Care
C) No ring-fence at all

Q2 Have you received the details of how much money you are being allocated and if so how much?

Q3 When will be starting reassessments of ILF users and wjen do you anticipate completing those assessments?

Responses were received from 147.

At the time of responding to the FOIs 12 said a decision had not yet been made as to how they will use the money with 2 if these explaining that they were waiting for confirmation of the amount of monies they will be receiving from central government before they decide.
31 said they will not be ring-fencing at all while 60 have decided to ring-fence to their Adult Social Care budget. 3 LAs will be ring-fencing to individual ILF recipients for a set amount of time (Camden for three months and Enfield and Slough for six months) while 9 said they will ring- fence individual awards until review and reassessment of individual support packages over the course of the nine months.
28 LAs responded that they will be ring-fencing to individual ILF users up until the end of March 2016. Those Local Authorities are Bath, Bedford, Birmingham, City of London, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hounslow, Islington, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Medway, Merton, Middlesbrough, Richmond, Rutland, Shropshire, South Gloucestershire, Southend, Stockport, Trafford, Wokingham and York.

88 out of the 147 Local Authorities who responded said they had not received details about how much money will be transferred from central government. 41 said they have an indicative amount they are working to based on the amount paid to ILF users now minus the 5% “attrition rate” the government will be top slicing. Only 15 said yes they do know how much they will be getting.

Most LAs (78) are aiming to have completed reassessments of all ILF recipients in their area before 30 June 2015. 30 do not have a timescale for completion while 17 LAs have set a target date later within the next nine months. 12 LAs said reassessments would be completed between July 2015 and March 2016. 7 said they had already completed theirs.

For those LAs who said they had completed their reassessments it was not clear whether all of them were referring to reassessments to calculate the support package ILF recipients will receive from the LA after transfer from the ILF or whether they had answered the question in relation to the joint transfer reviews with ILF assessors which were conducted as part of the transition process.

Some LAs who have committed to ring-fencing such as Stockport, Islington and Kingston have also completed their reassessments. Others such as South Gloucestershire will be reassessing over the next nine months.

For more information about these FOIs and the findings contact mail@dpac.uk.net or ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

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Jun 242015
 

Today (24th of June) severely disabled people who are set to lose their Independent Living Fund support in just seven days time along with  protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts staged a protest inside the House of Commons Lobby, and attempted to break through into the commons chamber and almost succeeded in interrupting Prime Ministers Questions.

The police response was at first confused, and then described as “rough” but none of the protestors was reported as being hurt and there were no arrests reported.

After leaving the House of Commons, the protestors continued to block roads around Westminster.

There is a much better report on the day from Kate Belgrave who took part in the protest here http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/06/videos-and-pics-from-today-disabled-people-occupy-central-lobby-at-parliament-saveilf/

Mobile phone video footage of police action against protesters, taken by Brian Hilton (the video displays on its side but still very worth seeing ) IMG_0635

See video and Pictures below:

This video courtesy of Occupy UK

Video of the Protest thanks to Kate Belgrave @Hangbitch

Protest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtesters to #SaveILF at the commonsProtesters to #SaveILF at the commons

Read more here:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/disabled-protesters-try-storm-commons-5940466

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/pmqs/11695937/Disability-protesters-try-to-storm-Commons-during-Prime-Ministers-Questions.html

http://www.itv.com/news/update/2015-06-24/disability-rights-protest-over-cuts-held-in-parliament/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/06/24/disability-prime-ministers-questions-independent-living-fund-_n_7653048.html?1435150311%3F%3F

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/police-clash-with-disabled-protesters-as-they-try-to-storm-house-of-commons-chamber-during-prime-ministers-questions-10342106.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33252828

http://www.demotix.com/news/7935988/dpac-protest-westminster-fight-against-closure-ilf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6N8c4XNa2Y&feature=youtu.be

 

 

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 Posted by at 15:03
Jun 232015
 

Liz Carr speaking at the anti austerity march 20th June

John Kelly singing Which Side are you On at the anti-austerity march June 20th

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Jun 142015
 

While the Labour party still scrambles among the election debris searching for its identity and running focus groups to find out if it should be circa 1990s Bluritte retro Tory in shocking pink, or a Tuesday-an unpleasant creature seems to have emerged from the Wolverhampton dust…

Rob Marris Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West is a bit of an Indiana Jones: ex lumber jack, ex truck driver, traveller, sociologist and solicitor.  He also has a distaste for parked vans. In 2008 he caused £350 worth of damage to a van parked by a bus stop when he jumped on the bonnet because he didn’t like the way it was parked. While other people walked around the van, Rob chose to jump on the bonnet.

Colin Molloy, the district CPS prosecutor, said: “There were two vehicles parked in front of a bus stop with a small gap between them.” Others had walked through the gap but Mr Marris chose not to, Mr Molloy said. “The van was not parked to his liking,” he added. Marris admitted it was an ‘unconventional’ act and accepted a conditional caution. Unconventional is one term: contemptuous violent disregard for others property and person is another.

On the 31st July Rob Marris is hosting The Silence of Suicide. The event blurb says: ‘Strange title you may think … but it is the silence that precedes the ultimate act of those who tragically decide to end their lives’.

So it’s even stranger then, that this is the same Rob Marris who has resurrected the “assisted suicide” or “assisted dying” Bill via some archaic competition in which he was the MP who got to choose a Bill.  By this process, and choice, Marris is the man responsible for reopening the door of Falconer’s state sanctioned killing proposal.  The idea being that a doctor can leave you a lethal cocktail which you can take when he/she leaves the room, or have forced down you when he/she leaves the room-actually there are no safeguards on that unless your home is fully fitted with CCTV. Were there any other Bills he could have sponsored? Yes there were..

LBBill

Marris is a self confessed patron of Wolverhampton Mencap (Rights not Charity by the way Rob) but we’d still imagine he’d spare a thought for the LBBill  (see https://lbbill.wordpress.com/ ). A Bill intended to prevent the abuse, neglect and deaths of people with learning difficulties locked away in institutions often many miles from their families. Marris’ constituents wrote to him asking him to support the important Bill and presented the reasons why he should. But Marris replied that he had his own ideas.

 I already have a couple of ideas, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but the interesting-sounding Bill you suggest is not one of them.

I am a patron of Wolverhampton Mencap, and I can only hope that the problems you delineate are not present at New Cross (no we didn’t understand what that meant either).

Rob Marris

His idea was not to save countless lives, prevent misery and abuse of human rights, but to resurrect the call for death-A call that the majority of Doctors and the BMA rejects.

It’s the van all over again: A contemptuous violent disregard for others property, person and life. Not only will refusing to back the LBbill cost lives, but the dragging back of the assisted killing bill shows a complete contempt for disabled people. A complete ignorance of the circumstances we find ourselves in with social ‘care’ at breaking point, the loss of the ILF, £12.5bn more cuts to come, newspapers screaming scrounger, the rise of hate crime and the collapse of welfare support.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous time to bring back the Bill. But maybe that’s the idea, with little between Labour and the Tories, the shrinking of the state along with the culling of more disabled people through the assisted dying/suicide/killing Bill- it couldn’t be better timed. Why try to right the wrongs in long term hospitals, prevent deaths in long stay institutions, attempt to recognise human rights when people are tied down against their will or force fed psychotic drugs in long stay institutions-they needn’t bother with any of it.

Marris also needn’t bother with the hundreds of disabled adults in Wolverhampton who are Independent Living Fund (ILF) users. Wolverhampton ILF users are set to lose £784,000 when the ILF closes on June 30th and monies transfer to the local authority. At the time of writing Wolverhampton social services have refused to tell the 300 ILF users in Wolverhampton what’s going to happen to their support. Marris doesn’t seem particularly bothered either.

Marris doesn’t care about ILF users, he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses happening in long stay hospitals and institutions. He cares about the horrors of suicide while simultaneously imposing state sanctioned suicide on disabled people.

Ann Whitehurst sums it up

Rob Marris, Labour MP, was number 1 MP on the PMB ballot list and was therefore in a position to save countless disabled people’s lives and prevent thousands from abusive neglect. A number of requests were made for Rob Marris to present the Disabled Peoples Community Inclusion bill, known as LBbill, including one from Bob Williams-Findlay who lives in Marris’ constituency but he declined to sponsor the bill preferring to use his position of being in line-up for ‘private members bill’ to sponsor killing us rather than including us in life.

When have any of these Labour MPs who want us dead ever put forward Assisted Living bill? How many fought for the ILF? How many support people to get decent Care Packages from their social services? Labour fascism”.

Rob Marris we’re bringing a van to Wolverhampton very soon and we don’t think you’re going to like where we’ll be parking it.

Rob is on twitter @WSW_Labour why not let him know what you think

 

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/2076906/Labour-MP-Rob-Marris-cautioned-for-damaging-van.html

https://lbbill.wordpress.com/

http://www.changepeople.org/blog-and-news/justice-for-laughing-boy-a-new-bill-for-parliament/

http://www.robmarris.net/the_silence_of_suicide

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/06/10/fears-over-780000-disability-benefits-in-wolverhampton-council-change/

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 14:48
May 252015
 

Independent Living Fund

Frequently Asked Questions for Independent Living Fund ( ILF ) users and other people with High Support Needs

This has been written for people who do not have a legal background. However, any individual who is considering legal action in relation to problems with their support should not rely only on this guide but should seek specialist advice, including legal advice.

These FAQs have been prepared by Kate Whittaker[1] together with DPAC supporters who are ILF users, Inclusion London and Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living. Individuals and local groups are welcome to re-use extracts and are free to copy it and send it round by email. If extracts of the paper are used in other publications please state that the content was taken from this guide.

The full document can be downloaded from

http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/Independent-Living-Fund

[1] Kate is a consultant solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, a national firm of solicitors specialising in community care, public law, mental capacity and other civil liberties work. Scott-Moncrieff & Associates have a franchise with the Legal Aid Agency to provide legal aid work in these areas.  Kate also provides independent legal consultancy and training. She specialises in cases involving disabled adults and children and others who need care and support from public bodies. As well as working as a solicitor Kate works closely with a number of disabled people’s organisations providing advocacy and other services, including Disability Sheffield where she is a trustee.

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 Posted by at 20:22
Mar 252015
 

A complaint to the United Nations was today launched on behalf of disabled people in the UK whose rights have been breached by the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF, which is the subject of an on-going and desperate battle between disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions (1), is high on the priority list for disabled people deciding how to vote at the forthcoming election. The complaint brought by Inclusion London (2) on behalf of two disabled women, Nicky Baker and Dr Melanie Wilson Jones, alleges that the government has violated Articles 17, 19, 20, 30 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the UK in 2009 (3).

The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with high support needs to live in the community when the alternative was residential care. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives, contributing to their communities and participating in education, employment and volunteering, family and social life. It is an effective way to provide support with both low cost overheads and extremely high user satisfaction rates (4).

On 13 December 2010 without any consultation or impact assessment, it was announced that the ILF would be closed permanently to new applicants. A ministerial statement was made referring to “informal consultation with disability organisations” but there is no record of this consultation (5). Since then, disabled people who missed out on the Fund have been left without the support they need to take part in day to day life and disabled people’s life chances have dramatically fallen. Meanwhile the government has failed to monitor the impact of the closure.

Nicky Baker, age 30, is a qualified auditor working within a disabled people’s organisation as well as studying part time for a degree. Although eligible for support from the ILF, the Fund was closed the day after she telephoned for an application form. The social care package she receives from her Local Authority does not provide the support she needs to live an independent life, for example to go on dates with her boyfriend without having her parents there or to take part in sufficient training for the high level of powerchair football she reached.

Dr Melanie Wilson Jones received a substantial amount of support including from the ILF after sustaining a brain injury. She made such progress that her needs decreased and thus her support was reduced. However following a road traffic accident in 2011 she sustained a further brain injury requiring someone to be with her constantly. Now unable to get support from the ILF, she is reliant on her husband who works full time and her 16 year old daughter to make up the extra hours of support she needs for evenings and weekends.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, who are supporting the challenge, said: “It is the pooling of resources and collective solidarity that has allowed this to happen. We’re grateful to DPAC supporters for their financial support towards travel costs, to the solicitor and barrister who gave their time pro bono, to Inclusion London for their staffing resources and of course to the two disabled women willing to put themselves forward to make a complaint on an issue that affects all disabled people in the UK. Without all of these factors this could never have been brought to fruition.”

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, who authored the complaint said, “The closure of the Independent Living Fund signals the end of independent living for disabled people. It took many years for disabled people to fight their way out of the institutions and to have the same chances as anyone else to live in the community alongside family and friends. At the current time Local Authorities are simply not able to provide the level of social care support required to uphold disabled people’s fundamental human rights”.

Sophie Partridge, a current ILF recipient, said: “The ILF has played a huge part in supporting me to have equal access to an independent adult life and a level playing field alongside non-disabled people. Without the ILF being re-opened to new applicants, I worry that young disabled people will never get the same life chances as I have had.”

Solicitor Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Pearce Glynn, who is representing the complainants said: “From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF to new applicants with no consultation or consideration of the rights protected under the UN Convention. Under Article 19, those rights include the fundamental right to independent living which has clearly been breached by this decision and I hope that the UN Committee takes appropriate action to recognise these very significant breaches”.

For more information or to speak to either the complainants or other disabled people affected by the closure of the ILF contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or call 07505144371.

Notes for editors:

1) The future of the ILF has been the subject of two legal challenges: the first was won by disabled claimants at the Court of Appeal in November 2013 and the second was lost in the High Court in December 2014. There have been continued protests and direct actions led by disabled people and their supporters since 2010, including in June 2014 the attempted occupation of the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

2) Inclusion London is a pan impairment pan London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation (DDPO) which provides policy, campaigning and capacity building support for London DDPOs. Inclusion London promotes disability equality and has been working with the disabled people led campaign Disabled People Against cuts to support ILF recipients in the campaign to keep the ILF open.

3) The UK is signed up to the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. This means that individuals can take complaints to the UN disability committee for breach of the UNCRPD if all domestic avenues have been exhausted. If the committee find the complaint admissible, they will investigate. and produce a set of recommendations for the State in question. One previous complaint was made to the UN disability committee but found inadmissible as the incidents in question which related to employment discrimination occurred before the UK ratified the convention. For more information about the UNCRPD: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=150

For more information about previous uses of the Optional Protocol: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&DocTypeCategoryID=6

4)

5)

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 Posted by at 21:42
Mar 162015
 

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The current situation now is that England will be the only UK nation which no longer has an ILF as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have pledged to open replacement ILF funds so this will lead to what can only be described as the biggest postcode lottery ever. If you are fortunate enough to live in a devolved nation then you will still be eligible for this additional funding but if you are unfortunate enough to live in England then you won’t be.

Obviously it may seem to those who have no real experience of the way the care system operates that it makes sense to devolve all funding to local authorities even if it will not be ring-fenced either to current recipients or even to the adult social care budget however ILF funding covers essential support for independent living which local authority care will not. (even with the introduction of the new care Act from April this year).

Labour says it strongly agrees that independent living is crucial to ensuring that disabled people have the same rights, choices and chances as any other citizen. They tabled an amendment during the Committee Stage of the Care Bill which would have enshrined in law the right of disabled people to live independently. Unsurprisingly the government chose to vote against and defeat this amendment. Ed Miliband has said recently Labour also opposed the government’s plans for closure of the Independent Living Fund in the absence of a comprehensive strategy for a system of social care that protects people’s ability to live independently. Yet in spite of this if Labour is elected in May it will be a Labour government that allows the ILF to close.

Kate Green/You have said “it’s not Labour’s position to retain the ILF “

We have asked Labour to commit to keeping the ILF open for current recipients even if only in the short term until something better can replace it so that a generation of disabled people do not lose the right to continue to live independently in the community.

The Labour front bench have said they will allow the ILF to close because there is a real opportunity to develop a sustainable model of provision for the most severely disabled people within the integrated health and social care landscape that Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall have been articulating rather than continuing with a standalone fund. These proposals are based on a report by the Oldham Commission which clearly states that it will take the 5 years of a new parliament and an extra £10 billion of funding to achieve these changes. In the meantime there will be no protection for disabled people in England who need their needs funding now and not at some date far into the future. For them any new integrated care system will simply be too late to help. Moreover, as respected experts in the field such as Professor Pat Thane have pointed out, the current system is simply not functioning at the necessary level. Relying on the integration of health and social care as a solution to the crisis in social care is thus an irresponsible gamble to take with people’s lives.

In the original ILF consultation over 50% of local authorities said that the loss of ILF was likely to lead to disabled people having to move from the community back into Care homes, something that is not only morally wrong but which will cost Local Authorities, who by 2015 will have had social care budgets cut by £8 billion, or by about 33%, considerably more.

Already since 2008 over 90,000 disabled people or 1 in 6 have lost their care and support for independent living.

While it is true that the fund is now being wound down, and staff numbers are already reducing it is not true that it is too late for Labour to commit to keeping the ILF open in England as well as will be the case in other parts of the UK. PCS and a former manager at ILF have both given the Labour front bench detailed reasons of why this is the case.

As the devolved funding will not be ring-fenced in any way to either individuals or adult social care budgets Ed Miliband has said that Labour will put in place guidance for Local Authorities to encourage them to meet the needs of severely disabled people in their areas but this will not be mandatory and we have no reason to believe that cash strapped councils will have either the political will nor the financial ability to implement such guidance. They are very aware of the dangers of setting precedents for providing levels and types of social care support to some individuals and not for others. A Local Authority could easily consider itself to have more to risk by following than not following the guidelines. In order to ensure equity between all adult service users they may well feel they have no choice but to level down..

As emerged from formerly undisclosed documents from DWP during one of the court cases the devolved funding for ILF recipients is only in place until April 2016 and no additional funding was requested beyond that date by DWP. What will happen to the real people stuck in the middle of this chaos then has not been addressed by any political party.

Further Labour also cite “inconsistencies” in delivery as a reason to remove the right to live independently from severely disabled people but these are the result of unequal take up between different local authorities  and is symptomatic of the failings of local authority administered social care support. As a national model of service delivery the ILF is far more successful and cost effective than local authority administered social care. The latest ILF annual report records a user satisfaction rating of 97%. Overheads for the ILF come in at just 2 % of the budget in comparison with an average of 16% for local authorities. It is in fact a model of service delivery that should be built upon rather than shut down. We understand that provisions in the Care Act are aimed at reducing inconsistencies between local authorities, nevertheless the inconsistencies Labour cite as a problem of the ILF are many times worse in the current system upon which ILF users will now be solely reliant as a result of the closure.

Since the closure to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the ILF have suffered dramatically worse outcomes than existing ILF recipients with equivalent support needs. We have provided Kate Green with a number of case studies showing the reality of independent living for disabled people who would have been eligible for ILF but are now only receiving LA social care support. We are not just talking about disabled people no longer being able to go to work, or ever have a holiday or go to university, we are talking about people unable to leave their homes, left without access to food or water, unable to go to the toilet and unable to wash more than a couple of times per week. We know there is also an urgent need to address this inequity, so do not believe that the right answer is to level everyone down to the lowest levels of support.

In the short term we are asking that the ILF be retained as the only way to realistically guarantee protection for existing recipients. Disabled people are aware that this is not a big ask: the ILF represents a relatively small amount of money – only £32 million and the ILF will not be wound down beyond easy repair before May 2015.

Moving on from these moral aspects of retaining the ILF the political situation now is that the Labour Party is the only main opposition party unwilling to commit to keeping the ILF open if elected. We find it very difficult to understand why Labour continues to take this position and not avail themselves of the support of the 12million plus disabled voters,and their families and friends

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 Posted by at 23:06
Feb 212015
 
The Save the ILF Campaign was successful in all parts of the UK except England, where the Labour Party repeatedly refused to save it on and coming to power they followed through on this non-promised. The guidlines they had promised to send to Local Authorities where duly sent and had were of no help whatsoever to former ILF recipients.

The Save the ILF Campaign was successful in all parts of the UK except England, where the Labour Party repeatedly refused to save it. Then Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green said “I do need to start by being clear that it’s not Labour’s position to retain the ILF”.

September 2015: The Legacy of the First 100 Days of a Labour government elected with a majority. Disabled people throughout the devolved nations of the UK are celebrating the continuing existence of their own Independent Living Funds. Yet in England those with the same support needs have little to cheer about as Labour themselves abandoned disabled people in England and continued forcing through the closure of the ILF, refusing disabled people the right to have the support they need to continue to live independently in the community.

Labour kept its pre-election promises on cuddly animals, and unfortunately kept to it's pre-election policies on disability as well
Labour kept its pre-election promises on cuddly animals, and unfortunately kept to it’s pre-election policies for disabled people  as well

But resilient as ever disabled people are cheering the fact that under Labour there are a significant number of improved rights for animals. After all we accept that not being pretty and fluffy and not enjoying being patted on the head by people passing us on the street- we were never likely to get the same sort of attention as cute little animals.Besides which, after 5 years of Condem austerity measures we’ve come to accept that the main political parties view us as stock with no human rights.

One of the first acts of the new Labour Government was to pass legislation to improve the lives of dogs and cats-they must now all be fed daily, be allowed out to go to the toilet regularly and have a daily walk. Not so for disabled people who have lost their care and support funding and who can only watch wistfully the new freedoms that pets have- imprisoned as they now are inside the walls of their homes unable to leave and take any active part in society. Many social services have introduced toileting regimes allowing disabled people to go to the toilet only at set times, or replaced human support with incontinence pads and catheters.

Fresh food has become a distant memory as more and more 3 minute short visits are all that is available to humans. Along with the wild animals which Labour is protecting by banning them from being used in circuses some of us are also being relocated to new ‘homes’. Sadly for disabled people this means we’re being removed totally from society and pushed out of sight and mind since the closure of the ILF in England.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls back when every disabled child mattered

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls back in 2006 when every disabled child mattered

Many young disabled people have now been sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in old people’s homes which provide the only residential care available for them. Meanwhile the search for suitable re-homing of our circus animals is being supported by a new independent and well-funded task force set up by Ed Balls. Equitably the re-homing of disabled people by Local Authorities is being done following a set of non-compulsory guidelines drawn up by the new minister of disabled people Dick Ensien.

When asked why he has abandoned the previous legacy of the last labour Governments Every Disabled Child Matters Campaign which he spear-headed Ed replied “ Although I find some disabled children cute I can’t stand them once they reach adulthood and besides which having had 'a hand up' while children the Labour party now no longer need to do anything more for them. They’ve already had equality of opportunity as outlined in Tony’s Third Way ideology and should just be jolly grateful for that.

Before the election, Rachel Reeves promised "Labour will be tougher then the Tories on Benefits ......" (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/12/labour-benefits-tories-labour-rachel-reeves-welfare)

Before the election, Rachel Reeves promised “Labour will be tougher then the Tories on Benefits ……” (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/12/labour-benefits-tories-labour-rachel-reeves-welfare)

Thankfully, as well, we’re delighted that the hunting ban has been confirmed to continue, and all culling of badgers has been stopped however the culling of disabled people through the new Work Capability Assessments carried out by Maximus – Same Circus, Different Clowns - continues unabated. The DWP as usual have refused to release figures of how many disabled people have died as a result of this process since the Labour government came to power. Disabled people also continue to be disproportionately sanctioned for failing to meet the conditionality in the WRAG as well as those flung onto JSA. Unqualified Job centre staff are free to decide which disabled people can be left to starve and for how long. But we are all so pleased dogs and cats now have a right to at least one meal a day. Tesco’s should also be applauded for continuing to collect food for us in their shops next to their baskets collecting cat and dog food. We do love being passive recipients of charity and being made to feel so thankful for any scraps thrown our way.

David Freud has now also returned to the Labour fold as a Labour Lord advising on benefits reform.

David Freud has now also returned to the Labour fold as a Labour Lord advising on benefit reform.

Of course David Freud has now also returned to the Labour fold as a Labour Lord advising on benefits reform. He has recommended to a Labour government bent on imposing further and harsher austerity measures that any disabled person in work should only be paid a maximum rate of £2 per hour since we are worth so much less to employers than non-disabled people. Since the alternative to this for many of us is unpaid work placements we are of course willing to accept this meagre rate if it allows us to be more employable.

 

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Feb 052015
 

In view of the Labour Party at last confirming they will not keep the ILF open in England, although there will be funds in Scotland, Northern Ireland and also probably Wales we’re now asking for as many DDPOs and individuals to sign up to an eaction to send an email directly to their MP

http://www.pcs.org.uk/savetheilf

and also a petition to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-independent-living-fund-1

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Jan 282015
 

While Labour profess to support fully the right to live independently for disabled people we are now in a situation following plans to close the Independent Living Fund where England is left as the only UK country which will not have it’s own form of a fund to continue to support the additional funding requirements of those who have high support needs.

For any political party to say they want disabled people to have the same rights, choices and chances as any other citizen rings hollow without a commitment to keep in place even if on a temporary basis the funding necessary for this to happen.

The Labour Party’s official response to many people who have contacted them with regard to supporting keeping the ILF open has outlined a number of points which we would like to address.

1) The “inconsistencies” in delivery which you mention were the result of unequal take up between different local authorities  and was symptomatic of the failings of local authority administered social care support. As a national model of service delivery the ILF is far more successful and cost effective than local authority administered social care. The latest ILF annual report records a user satisfaction rating of 97%. Overheads for the ILF come in at just 2 % of the budget in comparison with an average of 16% for local authorities. It is in fact a model of service delivery that should be built upon rather than shut down. We understand that provisions in the Care Act are aimed at reducing inconsistencies between local authorities, nevertheless the inconsistencies you cite as a problem of the ILF are many times worse in the current system upon which ILF users will now be solely reliant as a result of the closure.

2) You also state that ‘ we understand the Fund is already being wound down, and staff numbers are already reducing’. This maybe correct but it is equally the case that there is very little being done in terms of winding down the ILF that could not very quickly be undone, even after actual closure of the ILF. This information has been provided by ILF staff and a former strategic director at ILF and  has been shared with Labour’s shadow DWP team by PCS union and others. This means that if a Labour government were to be elected in May 2015 it will very much be Labour’s decision to go ahead with closure in June.

3) In turn that brings us onto the fact that should Labour be elected to government next May it is they who will be in power and responsible for the UK’s failure to protect disabled people’s human rights under the UNCRPD, and it is they who will be deemed responsible for the continuing grave and systematic violation of those rights when the UN investigation into the UK takes place after the election. We believe this would cause unnecessary and easily avoidable  embarrassment to a newly elected labour government with international repercussions.

Whilst we welcome Labour’s goal of trying to ensure in the longer term that those currently supported by the Independent Living Fund can realise rights to live independently and with dignity, the ‘whole person care’ through which Labour intends to deliver on this goal is at this stage only a proposal and any benefits resulting from it are a long way off. Moreover, as respected experts in the field such as Professor Pat Thane have pointed out, the current system is simply not functioning at the necessary level. Relying on the integration of health and social care as a solution to the crisis in social care is thus an irresponsible gamble to take with people’s lives.

Since the closure to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the ILF have suffered dramatically worse outcomes than existing ILF recipients with equivalent support needs. We have provided Kate Green with a number of case studies showing the reality of independent living for disabled people who would have been eligible for ILF but are now only receiving LA social care support. We are not just talking about disabled people no longer being able to go to work, or ever have a holiday or go to university, we are talking about people unable to leave their homes, left without access to food or water, unable to wash more than a couple of times per week.

Whilst the intention of issuing guidelines to local authorities is well meaning, it is unrealistic within the current climate to see these securing the futures of existing ILF recipients. Cash strapped local authorities are very aware of the dangers of setting precedents for providing levels and types of social care support to some individuals and not for others. An LA could easily consider itself to have more to risk by following than not following the guidelines. In order to ensure equity between all adult service users they may well feel they have no choice but to level down.

In the short term we are asking that the ILF be retained as the only way to realistically guarantee protection for existing recipients. Disabled people are aware that this is not a big ask: the ILF represents a relatively small amount of money; the ILF will not be wound down beyond easy repair before May 2015.

The alternative is that disabled people’s right to independent living will be wiped out, potentially for generations. Once a people lose choice and control over their lives, disempowerment sets in and rights that have been smashed aside over-night can only be won back over a long and hard road.

As it stands, if Labour are elected in May 2015, the final nail in the coffin of disabled people’s right to independent living as it currently exists will be hammered in under a Labour government. It does not have to be like this. The Labour Party has a golden opportunity to make a principled stand in support of disabled people and our rights to equality, inclusion and equality by supporting the continuation of ILF. Disabled people are mobilizing and campaigning across the UK, through initiatives like Operation Disabled Vote. A  principled stand by Labour on the ILF ahead of the General Election would be welcomed by the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK, our families, friends and supporters.

What you can do to help

We’re therefore asking people to email or tweet to Labour to say that England must not be the only UK country without an Independent Living Fund and that we know and have shown them the evidence that it is not too late to keep an ILF in England as well as in other UK countries. If Labour want disabled people’s votes then they must give an assurance that in the short term at least they will keep the ILF open until such time as something better can be put in place.

You can email Iain McNicoll, general secretary of the Labour Party at onenationpolitics@labour.org.uk

Ed Miliband at ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

And Kate Green at kate.green.2nd@parliament.uk

Or you can tweet them @IainMcnicol

@ed_miliband

@kategreenSU

Please also contact your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and let us know what replies you get.

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:53
Jan 262015
 

Please share this this post widely to help us get wide coverage of #saveilf on facebook and twitter

Ed Miliband's comments on the ILF on 26th Jan still leave us none the wiser as to what Labour intend to do about the ILF

Ed Miliband’s comments on the ILF on 26th Jan still leave us none the wiser as to what Labour intend to do about the ILF


update

We’re waiting for confirmation from a VERY silent Labour  party after tweets by  2 Labour party candidates stating not
once, but in the case of Trudie McGuiness 3 times  that she heard Ed  promised to save ILF.
Meanwhile we have the transcript of what he said and we still can’t manage to decide if he said he’d save ILF or that he wouldn’t. Your guess is as good as ours but do let us know what you think?

Possibly at some time in the near future the Labour party will be able to enlighten us all.

Ed transcript:

“First of all we said to the government they should not get rid of the independent living fund in the way they are doing. What they are doing is getting rid of it and passing it down to the local authorities, passing that money down to the local authorities.

So, firstly they should not be getting rid of the Independent living fund. And we’ve said that if it does go to the local authorities that budget has got to be protected.

We’ve got to find ways of protecting that money for some of the most vulnerable disabled people, some of whom I’ve met and who are saying “this is a terrible situation what’s happening to the independent living fund”.

Secondly, we’ve got to stop the assault on disabled people in relation to the medical tests that are going on and have fair and proper medical tests when it comes to the medical system.

{audience member – inaudible] Well you are right sir. We’ve got to sort out the way that these medical tests work. And we’ve said we are going to reform what is called the work capability assessment so that it gives a proper deal to disabled people.

Last thing I’ll say to you is this. We’ve got to actually enforce the law when it comes to disabled people. Because there are lots and lots of disabled people who want to work, want to actually go out and be part of the working population and can’t because they are not getting the help to do it.”

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Jan 242015
 
DPAC #SaveILF Lobby at House of Commons. Jubilee Room, hosted by Caroline Lucas

DPAC #SaveILF Lobby at House of Commons. Jubilee Room, hosted by Caroline Lucas MP

At a lobby held on 6th January Independent Living Fund recipients called on MPs from all political parties to save the ILF. Caroline Lucas MP who sponsored the lobby told the meeting that her party the Greens are fully behind the call to keep and re open the ILF.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London said: “The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up to enable disabled people with the highest support needs to live in independently in the community. The fund has transformed the lives of generation of disabled people who otherwise would have been shut away in residential care .The shameful plan to close the ILF will have a devastating impact on ILF users. With social services funding cut by 26% and a further £10 billion of cuts to Local Authority in the pipeline the closure of the fund will leave ILF users facing a future back in institutions or living without the independence, choice and control that most non disabled people take for granted. The commitment by the Green Party to keep the ILF open will be welcome by disabled people across this land as a rare moment when a party turns the rhetoric of fairness and justice into a policy and action that stands up for disabled people who have been so disproportionately hit by austerity cuts”

The lobby also heard from the SNP how the Scottish government will not only be keeping but also investing money in setting up a Scotland ILF open to new applicants. Welsh and Irish politicians from the SDLP and Plaid Cymru also pledged their party’s support.

Read Caroline Lucas’ article for the Independent newspaper on the closure of the ILF here:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/scrapping-the-independent-living-fund-would-devastate-thousands-9992591.html?origin=internalSearch

Watch footage from the lobby on 6th January here: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/pictures-and-video-from-the-saveilf-lobby-of-parliament-and-whitehall-roadblock/

For the latest on the ILF situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (with thanks to Brian Hilton from GMCDP)

Wales: The Welsh Government consultation on the future arrangements for the ILF ended on the 23rd December with the preferred options seem to be either setting up a successor to the ILF or creating up a new Independent Living Scheme in Wales. Regardless of which option is chosen, there is a commitment that any future arrangements will be underpinned by the Welsh Governments “Framework for Action on Independent Living“.

Northern Ireland: Health Minister Jim Wells has confirmed that the ILF will be retained in Northern Ireland. Further details are still be announced and so far all we have is what was reported last week in the Derry Daily newspaper.

Scotland: The latest update from Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, states that Self Directed Support Scotland will be hosting the Scottish ILF Development Manager who will report to the newly formed project board and that an additional £5.5 million will be made available foe new ILF applications.

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 Posted by at 22:47
Jan 112015
 

as you may have seen Mark Harper may have deliberately misled parliament and said that disabled people’s organisations have told him his government are right to close the independent Living Fund and devolve non-ring fenced funding to Local Authorities. Following DWPs response to an FOI we have now written to those disability charities it seems Mark Harper claims have supported this decision to ask them if they did agree with the government.

The charities concerned are DRUK,  Mencap, MIND, RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Leonard Cheshire Disability and SCOPE.

Many thanks to John Pring and his Disability News Service for also working on this issue.

http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2015/01/independent-living-fund-ministers-unbelievable-failure-prove-commons-boast/

Dear CEO,

A published statement in parliament made in December last year has left Mark Harper the minister for disabled people facing accusations that he misled parliament over the level of support for the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Mark Harper told MPs that he had “talked to disability organisations about this matter, and they agree with the
government” that the ILF should be closed and non-ring-fenced funding passed instead to local authorities.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141208/debtext/141208-0001.htm#1412082000005
Having now received a response to a Freedom of Information request about this matter the Minister for Disabled People’s Private Office has confirmed that the Minister does meet regularly with a large number of disability organisations including a regular monthly meeting with the Disability Charities Consortium – an informal coalition of seven disability charities; Action on Hearing Loss, Disability Rights UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap, Mind, RNIB and Scope – and attendance at the Fulfilling Potential Forum.

We know that those attending the Fulfilling Potential Forum have not agreed with the government’s plans to close the ILF and refusal to ring-fence the money.

We also feel it is unlikely, but not impossible, that you as one of the CEOs of the Disability Charities Consortium have agreed with this stance but before we pursue this matter further we would like you to confirm to us whether you have in meetings with Mark Harper agreed with the government’s position that the ILF should be closed and non ring-fenced funding devolved to local authorities.

We have posted this on our website and will add your responses to us as and when we receive them.

Linda Burnip

Disabled People Against Cuts

Responses

Linda
Disability Rights UK has never  agreed with government to ILF closure.
We have not agreed with government on closure or transfer.

On ring-fencing we campaigned in 2014 on the lack of ring-fencing by many local authorities, after we did a Freedom of Information request to find out what local authorities were doing – this was on national media.

See our statement and these FoI  findings at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2014/august/most-councils-will-not-ringfence-ilf-resources

We will be doing a further Freedom of Information request shortly to sustain pressure

Best wishes

Liz

Dear Linda

I am currently chair of Disabilities Charities Consortium.

Disabilities Charities Consortium CEOs have met once with Mark Harper, on 14 October 2014. It was an introductory meeting at which we discussed the DCC’s priorities in the run-up to the general election and shared our joint policy platform (see attached document) and invited the Minister to outline his priorities up until May 2015.

There was a brief discussion about independent living at the meeting, which focused on social care funding and legislative reforms. The meeting did not include any discussion of the Independent Living Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium does not have an agreed joint position on the ILF. Our positioning document (attached) calls for Government to reaffirm its commitment to independent living and put in place the mechanisms to deliver this. By the end of the next Parliament, all recipients of state-funded care must have the option to live independently, including being supported in their own home or in a supported living setting.

With regard to Action on Hearing Loss, we have not had any conversation with the Minister for Disabled People about the Independent Living Fund.

With best wishes

Paul

Paul Breckell
Chief Executive
Action on Hearing Loss

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your recent messages to Clare Pelham with regard the Independent Living Fund.

In addition to the clarification that I know has been sent on behalf of the DCC group, I can confirm that we have had two recent meetings with Mark Harper MP, the introductory meeting between the Minister and the CEOs of the Disability Charities Consortium on 14 October, and an individual meeting on 27 November. We did not discuss the ILF at either of these meetings. In addition, over the last year we have specifically called for the ILF to be retained.

Yours,

Andy Cole 

Director of Corporate Affairs
Leonard Cheshire Disability

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your email regarding the comment that the Minister for Disabled People made in Parliament in December 2014 about the Independent Living Fund.

Scope has held two meetings with Mark Harper as the Minister for Disabled People – the first in September 2014 and the second in January 2015.  The agenda of neither of these meetings included a specific item on the Independent Living Fund.

We have always been clear that our position on ILF is as set out below.

As you know, in our response to the Government’s 2012 consultation entitled ‘The Future of the Independent Living Fund’ (available here:https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-of-the-independent-living-fund-ilf), Scope stated that ‘Whilst it may be reasonable to consider bringing the Independent Living Fund (ILF) into the mainstream care and support system at some point in the future, Scope is strongly opposed to closing the fund to existing users at this present time’ and that “the core issue of funding for all care and support services needs to be addressed before any potential consideration of closure of the ILF to existing users”.

Since then, Scope has been consistent and clear that we are very concerned about the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) because it is likely to lead to fewer disabled people being able to live independently and because those basic conditions for any movement of the fund into the mainstream care system have not been met. Our most recent position statement on the closure of the Fund can be found here: http://www.scope.org.uk/Scope-responds-lawfulness-closure-Independent-Living-Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium has met once with Mark Harper, on 14 October 2014. It was an introductory meeting at which we discussed the DCC’s priorities in the run-up to the general election and shared our joint policy platform and invited the Minister to outline his priorities up until May 2015.   There was a brief discussion about independent living at the meeting, which focused on social care funding and legislative reforms. The meeting did not include any discussion of the Independent Living Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium does not have an agreed joint position on the ILF. Our positioning document calls for Government to reaffirm its commitment to independent living and put in place the mechanisms to deliver this. By the end of the next Parliament, all recipients of state-funded care must have the option to live independently, including being supported in their own home or in a supported living setting.

I hope this answers your query in full, and please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

Richard Hawkes

SCOPE

Thank you for your email and giving us an opportunity to respond to what the government has said.

As you’ll see from the attached response to the original ILF consultation, which we submitted in October 2012, we called, amongst other things,  for a ring-fenced budget allocation, if the ILF were to be closed. We then set out the different developments we wanted to see across Wales and Northern Ireland, were the ILF to close, to ensure a proper funding settlement for the devolved administrations. We believe that the lack of ringfencing is a very serious issue, which the government has not recognised.

In particular, I would draw your attention to the following from our response:

“Mencap urges the Government to transfer the funding from the ILF to local authorities in the form of a ring fenced specific grant. Otherwise it would be highly likely that local authorities will use the ILF funding to meet other gaps in spending. Furthermore Mencap calls upon the Government to take urgent action to address the funding crisis within adult social care. ”

You may also know that we are a member of the Care and Support Alliance, along with over 70 other organisations, campaigning together for a significant increase in funding for social care.

As a member of the Disabilities Charities Consortium, we have met once with Mark Harper, on 14 October last year- our first meeting with him after he took up the new role. It was an introductory meeting at which we discussed the DCC’s priorities in the run-up to the general election and the Minister’s priorities up until May. There was a brief discussion about independent living at the meeting, which focussed on social care funding and the Care Act. The meeting did not include any discussion of the Independent Living Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium, of which Mencap is a member, does not have an agreed joint position on the ILF. Our joint policy document, which we use to guide our work together, calls for Government to reaffirm its commitment to independent living and put in place the mechanisms to deliver this so that by the end of the next Parliament, all users of state-funded care services have the option to live independently, including being supported in their own home or in a supported living setting.

I hope this is helpful, and welcome you placing responses on your website, so disabled people and their families can see the position that we and other charities have taken.

Jan Tegelles

Mencap

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:05
Jan 072015
 

Disabled People Will not be pushed back into the Margins of Society #SaveILF

Video: Channel 4 News Report on the Protest :

Note: Channel 4 News conclude this video clip by saying “this is the last chance for the SaveILF Campaigners. They got that bit wrong, there is more we can do and we will do to Save the Independent Living Fund.

Video of the blockade of Whitehall by #SaveILF protesters:

Video of the Lobby of MPs in Parliament:


Pictures collected from images posted to twitter – credit goes to the person/account that tweeted the picture at the start of the caption. The remainder of the caption is the text that they tweeted

Gathering at the start of the protest:

@FuelPovAction - Outside Parliament with @Dis_PPL_Protest to #SaveILF join in with online Tweeting to show your support!

@FuelPovAction – Outside Parliament with @Dis_PPL_Protest to #SaveILF join in with online Tweeting to show your support!

@JamieKelseyFry People gathering for #saveilf at Parliament including @CarolineLucas stop attack on disabled people

@JamieKelseyFry People gathering for #saveilf at Parliament including @CarolineLucas stop attack on disabled people

@UKuncut @Dis_PPL_Protest Gathering for the #SaveILF Protest

@UKuncut @Dis_PPL_Protest Gathering for the #SaveILF Protest

@UniteCommExeter #wheresEd Outside Downing street now @Dis_PPL_Protest to #SaveILF  Not!

@UniteCommExeter #wheresEd Outside Downing street now @Dis_PPL_Protest to #SaveILF Not!

@Redjolly1 Outside #saveilf loads of people

@Redjolly1 Outside #saveilf loads of people

@cheryleehouston #saveilf

@cheryleehouston #saveilf

@alibali50 #Corrie actress @cheryleehouston takes part in Whitehall protest with other disabled to save #ilf

@alibali50 #Corrie actress @cheryleehouston takes part in Whitehall protest with other disabled to save #ilf

@cheryleehouston #saveILF

@cheryleehouston #saveILF

@redjolly1 Channel 4 filming with Caroline Lucas and #saveilf

@redjolly1 Channel 4 filming with Caroline Lucas and #saveilf

The blockade of Whitehall:

@TheGo4M disabled ppl block Whitehall. #NoILFNoLIFE #SaveILF. Sign EDM 655

Anon. disabled ppl block Whitehall. #NoILFNoLIFE #SaveILF. Sign EDM 655

@lokwauk #WheresEd Copper telling disabled people to get off Whitehall. They won't. #saveilf

@lokwauk #WheresEd Copper telling disabled people to get off Whitehall. They won’t. #saveilf

@letmelooktv Rather go to jail than die in a nursing home #SaveILF

@letmelooktv Rather go to jail than die in a nursing home #SaveILF

@Transportforall Roadblock! We are protesting with @Dis_PPL_Protest in front of the parliament to #SaveILF!

@Transportforall Roadblock! We are protesting with @Dis_PPL_Protest in front of the parliament to #SaveILF!

@Andree_Frieze @Dis_PPL_Protest blocking all traffic in Whitehall to #SaveILF

@Andree_Frieze @Dis_PPL_Protest blocking all traffic in Whitehall to #SaveILF

@FuelPovAction Brilliant moving-dancing blockade with @Dis_PPL_Protest to #saveilf

@FuelPovAction Brilliant moving-dancing blockade with @Dis_PPL_Protest to #saveilf

@FuelPovAction @Dis_PPL_Protest blocking all traffic in Whitehall to #SaveILF

@FuelPovAction @Dis_PPL_Protest blocking all traffic in Whitehall to #SaveILF

From inside the Lobby of MPs in Parliament:

@OccupyLondon #SaveILF at House of Commons. Jubilee Room with @dis_ppl_protest & @carolinelucas

@OccupyLondon #SaveILF at House of Commons. Jubilee Room with @dis_ppl_protest & @carolinelucas

@Hangbitch Many disabled people at parliament hoping to hear a little more than platitudes from MPs on saving the ILF #SaveILF

@Hangbitch Many disabled people at parliament hoping to hear a little more than platitudes from MPs on saving the ILF #SaveILF

@johnmcdonnellMP Meeting DPAC campaigners lobbying MPs to bring back the ILF.

@johnmcdonnellMP Meeting DPAC campaigners lobbying MPs to bring back the ILF.

@hangbitch #disabled people say they'll need a firm commitment on independent living when deciding who to vote for #saveilf

@hangbitch #disabled people say they’ll need a firm commitment on independent living when deciding who to vote for #saveilf

@JohnMcDonnellMP Fantastic atmosphere at @Dis_PPL_Protest lobby of MPs to bring back the ILF.

@JohnMcDonnellMP Fantastic atmosphere at @Dis_PPL_Protest lobby of MPs to bring back the ILF.

@PeoplesSELondon "It's a simple message isn't it" "bring back the ILF" @johnmcdonnellMP #SaveILF lobby

@PeoplesSELondon “It’s a simple message isn’t it” “bring back the ILF” @johnmcdonnellMP #SaveILF lobby

@JeremyCorbyMP At excellent Independent Living Fund lobby. It must be brought back to give real respect and dignity!

@JeremyCorbyMP At excellent Independent Living Fund lobby. It must be brought back to give real respect and dignity!

@Debbie_abrahams Packed room to listen to disabled & their carers protest about #independentlivingfund closure.

@Debbie_abrahams Packed room to listen to disabled & their carers protest about #independentlivingfund closure.

Trending on Twitter

@rockinpaddy Screenshot showing #SaveILF trending.

@rockinpaddy Screenshot showing #SaveILF trending.

And afterwards……..

@cheryleehouston After protesting for #SaveILF we all travelled home separately - only one wheelchair per bus

@cheryleehouston After protesting for #SaveILF we all travelled home separately – only one wheelchair per bus


Here is the list of MPs who attended the Lobby of Parliament

Caroline Lucas         (Green, Brighton)
Clive Efford         (Labour, Eltham)
Iian McKenzie         (Labour, Inverclyde)
John Mcdonnell         (Labour, Hayes and Harlington)
Elidh Whiteford     (SNP, Banff and Buchan)
Michael Connarty     (Labour, Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
Barbara Keely         (Labour, Worsley and Eccles South)
Sheila Gilmore         (Labour, Edinburgh East)
Liz McKennis         (Labour, Heywood and Middleton)
Grahame Morris MP     (Labour, Easington)
Debbie Abrahams     (Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth)
Mark Durkan         ( Social Democratic and Labour, Foyle)
Jeremy Corbyn         (Labour, Islington)
Kelvin Hopkins         (Labour, Luton North)
Russel Brown         (Labour, Dumfries and Galloway)
Bob Russell         (Lib Dem, Colchester)
Steve Pound         (Labour, Ealing North)
Emma Lewell-buck     (Labour, South Shields)
Hywel Williams        (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)

We want to thank them for the support they have shown us today. If you live in the constituency of any these MPs – you know who we recommend you vote for….

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 Posted by at 00:17
Jan 042015
 

Join the DPAC Lobby of Parliament 6th Jan 1.30pm

Join us for a Mass Action to save the ILF, Tuesday, January 6th 1.30pm for 2pm start. House of Commons, SWIA 0AA

OR

Join us Online. We have prepared a webpage with tweets on that you can use, or you can tweet your own messages to:

  • Tories:  @Mark_J_Harper, @David_Cameron, @EstherMcVeyMP, @JoJohnsonMP who closed the ILF (IDS is too much a coward to have a twitter account)
  • Labour: @Ed_Miliband, @KateGreenSU, @RachelReevesMP @EdBallsMP @HilaryBennMP
    who have (so far) chosen not to save the Independent Living Fund

Let’s make our presence felt, at the House of Commons and on Twitter

‘Cos we’re not taking no for an answer

You should see the tweetlist webpage below, if it doesn’t show, you can visit it on this link

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 Posted by at 21:24
Dec 172014
 

Many thanks to all of you who signed up to our letter to Ed Miliband asking Labour to commit to keeping the ILF open –at least until something better could be found to allow disabled people to live independently in the community. In less than a week we collected 21 x A4 size pages of signatures, more people are also asking to sign up. This shows how important this issue is to us – as disabled voters.

 

Sadly we have to tell you all that in spite of one of our steering group members trying to organise handing over that letter through a supportive Labour MP Ed Miliband has turned his back on disabled people, once again, and refused to accept the letter from us.

 

At the Labour party event for International Day of Disabled People Ed was asking how he could get disabled people to vote for him. Well we have a very loud and clear message for Mr. Miliband: it is not by  refusing to engage with us when requested, and it is not by ignoring the rights that disabled people have to live independently in the community.

 

Our Christmas message to Ed is that he needs to take on board the reality of the voting power of the 12.2 million disabled people and their families in this country if Labour are serious about being elected.

 

We’d also like to ask all of you, but especially those who signed up to our letter to send your own letter or email direct to Ed from January 5th onwards.

Contact Information:

Email: ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

Post: House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA
Twitter: @ed_miliband

Template Letter:

I/We disabled people/ family/ friends/ supporters and allies, are asking for your help. We are asking you to pledge to keep the Independent Living Fund open to existing applicants, pending a review of Independent Living for all disabled people.
As you may know, on the 8th of December at the High Court, a ruling was given against our challenge to the closure of the ILF [1], and we were not given leave to appeal.
The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens. 
Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.
But we have vowed to fight on against the ILF closure,  disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay.
We ask you to imagine what it will be like, for people who have been enabled  to live a full life, be with friends and family, go out, work, study and enjoy recreation, to have all that taken away, and find themselves trapped inside, all day, every day, with choices over what they do, when and how, removed.
To severely disabled people the Independent Living Fund represents the difference between having an existence, and having a life.
 
If you want our vote then keep the Independent Living Fund.

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 Posted by at 23:56
Dec 102014
 

Please Help Us. Save Our Independent Living Fund

We, disabled people, family, friends, supporters and allies, are asking for your help. We are asking you to pledge to keep the Independent Living Fund open to existing applicants, pending a review of Independent Living for all disabled people.

As you may know, on the 8th of December at the High Court, a ruling was given against our challenge to the closure of the ILF [1], and we were not given leave to appeal.

The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens. 

Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.

But we have vowed to fight on against the ILF closure,  disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay.

We ask you to imagine what it will be like, for people who have been enabled  to live a full life, be with friends and family, go out, work, study and enjoy recreation, to have all that taken away, and find themselves trapped inside, all day, every day, with choices over what they do, when and how, removed.

To severely disabled people the Independent Living Fund represents the difference between having an existence, and having a life.

Please Ed, keep our Independent Living Fund open. Keep Our Lives Open. It means the world to us.

References

[1] http://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/disabled-people-vow-to-continue-the-fight-to-save-

to sign as an organisation or individual please go to 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/11ZpbvcgSdYeOciEj9NZtnHFaI-3gGzMvRKLX4RblGTs/edit

or email: mail@dpac.uk.net

deadline for all signatures is 12pm Tues 16th Jan

Background: The Government won a case in the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday 8th December, which made their decision to close the ILF – Independent Living Fund – lawful; and this closure will now go ahead on 30th June next year.
Unless, of course the families, friends, supporters and others stand in solidarity with ILF Users campaign to Save the ILF, and together apply the sort of political power which changes minds and policy. You can do that today by signing the Open Letter to Ed Miliband (full text below), asking him, that should he become Prime Minister in May’s General Election, to keep the Fund open while ordering an independent review into the benefits of a model such as the ILF.
We know that many disabled people will lose some or all of their support, isolating people in their homes – at best. For many more, being institutionalised in residential homes is once again a grim reality. To save on average just over £300 per person. Don’t let this happen. Stand in support with ILF Users in this action, and the many more on-going & to come

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Dec 092014
 

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): What legal costs his Department has incurred in legal proceedings involving disabled people relating to the under-occupancy penalty and the closure of the independent living fund. [906481]

The Minister for Disabled People (Mr Mark Harper): The Government have robustly defended their policies in relation to the closure of the independent living fund and the removal of the spare room subsidy. The total known legal costs to date, in respect of both policies where disability formed part of the grounds of the claim, are £415,000: £236,000 for the ILF and £178,000 for the removal of the spare room subsidy.

John Healey: That is a part answer to a very direct question about the cost to the taxpayers of Government lawyers defending the indefensible—axing the ILF and introducing the hated bedroom tax. Will the Minister not recognise that many severely disabled people flourish with the fund but are now frightened of losing their independence when he shuts it down next year? He might have won the legal case this year, but he has lost the moral and policy arguments, so even at this 11th hour will he rethink the protection available to ILF users?

Mr Harper: No, I will not. I have talked to disability organisations about this matter, and they agree with the Government. More than 1 million people get social care through the mainstream social care system. The Government are not making any savings by moving the ILF to local authorities and devolved Administrations, and we are working closely with each local authority to ensure that the amount of money being transferred at the point of closure next year will be exactly what is needed and what is being spent by the ILF, meaning that disabled people will be protected.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): Some £4.3 billion has been taken out of adult social care budgets over the past four years because of the Government’s cuts. If that funding transfers across, as is planned, it will plug only a very small part of the gap. If they will not rethink this policy, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) just suggested, will Ministers require that the funding be ring-fenced to ensure that 70 people in Salford and 18,000 people across the country with disabilities can look forward to keeping their independence and to this continuing support?

Mr Harper: Of course local government has had to play its part in the savings, but local authorities can make choices. My local authority in Gloucestershire has protected the value of social care because it thinks that protecting older people—[Interruption.] No, my local authority has faced cuts, like all local authorities, but it has chosen to—[Interruption.] If Opposition Members want me to answer their hon. Friend’s question, they should stop yelling. My local authority has prioritised funding for older people and people of working age. Clearly, the hon. Lady’s local authority has made different decisions. If those on her local authority want to ring-fence the money transferred from the ILF, they are absolutely free to do so, so I suggest she take that up with them.


8 Dec 2014 : Column 632

We want to thank John Healey MP for raising these questions

But other questions arise: which disability organisations did Harper speak to and why did they agree with the Government that closing ILF was a good thing for disabled people with high support needs and their employees? Did Harper speak to ILF users?

Watch this space……

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Dec 082014
 

Press release from Solicitors involved

Two severely disabled men who use the Independent Living Fund (ILF) today lost their bid to overturn the Government’s decision to close the ILF in June 2015, as the High Court ruled that former Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning had not breached equality laws in making the closure decision earlier this year. The two men had been granted permission for a judicial review of the process leading to Penning’s closure decision, taken just weeks after the Court of Appeal quashed a previous, almost identical decision as being unlawful.

ILF provides vital support and funding to some 17,000 disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. To be eligible people must already receive a substantial care package from local authority social services, but ILF funding provides a top-up for those with the highest support needs. The ILF system was set up in 1988 to tackle the barriers to independent living and working faced by the most severely disabled people, which were not adequately addressed by council provision with its focus on meeting basic needs. The claimants, represented by Scott-Moncrieff & Associates and Deighton Pierce Glynn, believe that these problems with council provision remain and are getting worse under Government cuts. They fear that loss of ILF support will threaten their right to live with dignity, and they may be forced into residential care or lose their ability to participate in work and everyday activities on an equal footing with other people.

As in the earlier, successful challenge, the claimants argued that the Minister had not been given adequate information to be able to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users and their ability to live independently, or to consider alternatives. The Court of Appeal ruled that this information about impact was essential for the Minister to comply with the Equality Act, which requires the Government to act to positively advance equality of opportunity for disabled people, including meeting needs, removing disadvantages and increasing their participation in public life.

However, handing down judgment today Mrs Justice Andrews ruled that a crucial difference between the two decision-making processes was that in the first, the Minister (then Esther McVey) was given an over-optimistic ‘Panglossian’ summary of information about how ILF users would be likely to be affected, whereas in the second the Minister was made fully aware of ‘the inevitable and considerable adverse effect’ that closure would have on disabled people. She concluded that the assumption on which Mr Penning based his decision was that ‘independent living might well be put seriously in peril for … most (or a substantial number of) ILF users’. In the judge’s view that meant that the Minister had clear, unambiguous information on which to weigh up the implications for disability equality, regardless of the exact number of people who would be likely to have to go into residential care or lose their ability to work or study.

The judge emphasised that her decision was not about the rights or wrongs of closure, just whether the Minister knew enough about the likely impact to meet the requirements of a lawful decision-making process. The decision itself was up to him. The judge also declined to rule on whether the closure decision may put the UK in breach of its international legal obligations to advance disabled people’s rights to independent living and equality of opportunity under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

However there is a really significant point arising out of the decision. Essentially the legal challenge was to the process of decision-making and specifically the question of what information the Minister had available to him about the likely impact on disabled people so as to be able to properly exercise the public sector equality duty.  What the judgment highlights is that, in the judge’s view, the Minister clearly believed that the impact of closure on disabled people and their ability to live independently will be really severe, and many or most ILF users will be at risk of losing their ability to work, study or live independently in the community as a result

 

For the purpose of the legal challenge, that meant that (in the judge’s view) the Minister had sufficient information to make a lawful decision – and that was end of story as far as the court’s role went.  But in wider terms it really begs the question of why, in that case, the Minister decided what he did:

 

          How can it have been justified if he thought the impact would be so severe?

          What is the benefit of getting rid of this tried and tested system of protection for those people who are most at risk of losing their independence? There has never been any suggestion that it will save money overall – indeed there is evidence that it may cost far more than it saves because of (a) the false economies of people losing good support then getting into crisis and being institutionalised, (b) the ILF system being such good value for money (extremely low running costs as it uses trustees) and (c) the double benefit of the ILF system which not only provides a funding top-up but (crucially) puts leverage on local authorities to put their contribution towards proper independent support packages instead of institutional care.

          How can  this decision to cause such a negative impact on such a large number of the most severely disabled people in the country be squared with the need for the Government to actively advance equality of opportunity for disabled people, including meeting needs better and increasing participation in public life rather than the other way round?

          Similarly how can it be squared with international obligations the UK has signed up to such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which stipulates that contracting states must move forwards not back in realising rights such as that under Article 19 – the right to live independently in the community with choices equal to others.

Contact: Solicitors representing the Claimants:

Deighton Pierce Glynn (Louise Whitfield)

Scott-Moncrieff & Associates (Kate Whittaker)

8 Union Street, London SE1 1SZ

Tel: 020 7407 0007

Office 7, 19 Greenwood Place, London NW5 1LB

Tel: 020 7485 5588/ 07954 289595

Notes

  1. The ILF is a body of the Department of Work and Pensions but under the management of independent trustees. Since it was created in 1988 it has helped many thousands of disabled people to live independent lives and be included in the community as full citizens. It has targeted support at the most severely disabled people in the UK who face the greatest barriers to independent living, and has also played a key role in overseeing social services provision from local authorities for this group of people, to ensure that the combined ILF/local authority support packages meet criteria of promoting independence and inclusion and avoid unnecessary escalation of costs through people being institutionalised and cut off from their communities. In 2010 the Fund was closed to new applicants because the Government had reduced the amount of money it gave to the Fund. It is now proposing that the Fund close completely on 30 June 2015, leaving users to rely solely on local authority adult care services.
  1. This is at a time when the funding for local authorities is being dramatically reduced and many authorities are cutting services for disabled people. The Health and Social Care Information Centre states that the total number of people receiving social care services in 2012-13 was 1.3m, down 9% from 2011-12 and down 25% from 2007-08 (HSCIC, Community Care Statistics, Social Services Activity: England 2012-13, Provisional Release, 2013). This is the expected result of the targeting of cuts at local authority funding which will continue until at least 2015-16, suggesting a real-terms cut of nearly 50% in social care provision by that stage.
  1. Following consultation the Scottish government has announced that from 1 July 2015 it will establish a Scottish Independent Living Fund to protect the funding of the 3000+ existing ILF users in Scotland, and will build on the existing system through a £5.5 million investment which will re-open it to new users, ensuring its long-term future: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scottish-governments-decision-on-a-scottish-independent-living-fund. The Welsh government is currently consulting on options for the future support of ILF users, including setting up a successor body as in Scotland; the consultation is open until 23 December 2014: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/fund/?lang=en.
  1. Further information, including briefing (June 2014) and individuals’ stories, on the campaign against the closure of ILF is available at the Inclusion London website: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

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Dec 082014
 

This morning after weeks of anxious waiting, disabled people and our supporters learned that the high court has found against the latest legal challenge against the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (1). Disabled campaigners vow to continue the fight in every way that we can.

 

The campaign to save the Independent Living Fund has been one of the most high profile among the many battles disabled people are currently fighting against current government policy that is detrimentally impacting on disabled people, with disabled activists occupying Westminster Abbey gardens over the summer (2).

 

In November last year the Court of Appeal quashed the government’s decision to close the ILF with the Court of Appeal judges unanimous in their view that the closure of the fund would have an ‘inevitable and considerable adverse effect which the closure of the fund will have, particularly on those who will as a consequence lose the ability to live independently” (3).

 

On 6th March this year the then Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning retook the decision and announced a new date of June 2015 for permanent closure of the Fund that provides essential support enabling disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community when the alternative would be residential care (4).

 

In October a second legal challenge was heard in the high court brought by disabled claimants claiming that the Minister had not considered any new information to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users (5). The Department for Work and Pensions mounted a defence based on their assertion that the Minister had adequate information to realise that the independent living of the majority of ILF users will be significantly impacted by the closure of the fund.

 

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London said: “The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens. Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of the campaign Disabled people Against Cuts, said: “Regardless of this ruling, disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay”.

 

For more information or to speak to disabled people directly affected by the Independent Living Fund please contact Ellen on 07505144371 or email mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Notes for editors

1)      For full judgement and press release from solicitors working on the case see: http://www.deightonpierceglynn.co.uk/http://www.scomo.com/

2)      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/28/occupy-westminster-disabled-people-against-cuts

3)      http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/522372-ILF-Briefing-Note-06-11-2013.pdf?bb10e9

4)      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/future-of-the-independent-living-fund

5)      http://dpac.uk.net/2014/06/breaking-news-2nd-court-case-to-challenge-ilf-closure-launched/

 

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