Jan 072012

The cost to the state of scrapping the UK Independent Living Fund (ILF) will be over 154 million pounds per year[i] in institutional costs based on current levels of 21,000 people that receive ILF. If we accept that a further 41,000 people would have been entitled to receive ILF since it closed its doors to new applicants in June 2010 the figure rises to a minimum of over 462 million.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) allows ‘severely disabled’ people to stay in their own homes and out of residential institutions through the employment of personal assistants. The likely closure of ILF in 2015 for existing applicants will cause more misery to disabled people and cost the state billions with many disabled people being forced into residential institutions. The cost to the state of scrapping ILF is likely to top over 462 million pounds per year in institutional costs. These figures do not include the loss to the exchequer of tax revenues disabled people generate by employing personal assistants, nor extra health service costs that will be incurred by the closure of ILF.

While the Dilnot report suggested that individuals would pay a percentage of their own institutional costs in the future, the majority of disabled people will simply be unable to do that. Therefore the cost goes to the state or more specifically the tax payer. The stated purpose of the closure of ILF is claimed to be cost savings, yet figures based on potential predictions show the opposite will be true.

The government’s own social care health committee say: ‘Inevitably the cost of care is not static, 2011 figures had increased by 5.1% and 3.3% respectively from 2010. Many care homes can cost more than £50,000 per year’. However, given the loss of ILF and restrictions on many local authority eligibility criteria to ‘critical’ to be eligible for social services – more and more disabled people will find their living, economic and social conditions deteriorating with additional adverse effects on their health.

A reliable 2010 residential cost estimate is given in the Scottish governments’ quoted estimate of £72,000 per year based on ‘Service User A’ who is ‘a 59 year old male who has multiple sclerosis’.  The cut backs on ILF, Disability Living Allowance , incapacity benefit changeovers and cuts in local authority funds of up to 30% make it more likely that this particular ‘service user’ and others like him will be heading for the more expensive option of the residential home.

Service user A is 59 and would be in residential ‘care’ for a number of years, based on the average life-span arrived at by the governments’ own Office of National Statistics. The cost to the state would amount to over 1 million over the lifetime of ‘service user A’ at 2010 prices.

The government appear intent on contravening article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons to live independently in the community with the right to employ personal assistants, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights and the diluted Equality Act 2010. The stated purpose of the closure of ILF is claimed to be cost savings, yet the figures show the opposite is true.

£37,888 per annum per person is the difference between receiving current average payout of ILF at 2011 and the cost of residential care at 2010 cost levels, excluding future inflation and excluding revenue from tax receipts of personal assistants employed by disabled people using ILF.

154 million two hundred thousand per year costs are based on the current number of 21,000 users of ILF@ £74,000 per year in institutional costs per person.  ILF has been closed to new applicants since June 2010. The overall figure of those in the qualifying bracket for ILF is likely to be far higher than the figure of 21,000 people stated by the coalition.

The Closure of the Independent Living Fund has been eclipsed by arguments on the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments, Atos and the Work Capability Assessment and Welfare reform as the priorities. That’s a lot for UK disability activists to fight, but it’s time to bring back the closure of ILF and its impacts.

Sign Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC’s) letter on ILF here

Originally posted on http://www.digitalvoice.eu/

Debbie Jolly is on twitter: @redjolly1

[i] Figure based on a cost of 74,000 per year for institutional costs







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