Independent Living Fund (ILF) users and DPAC have led the campaign to #save ILF since 2011. In 2010 the ILF was closed to new applicants. DPAC tried to get some people to challenge this through the courts. We didn’t succeed. We were just starting up then-no other disability organisation made a move, in fact there were odd noises coming from some of them that seemed to suggest that ILF had had its day, in line with the Government rhetoric. Even today few organisations with the exception of Inclusion London have been consistent in supporting ILF users with the message that the loss of ILF will affect everyone.
So did local authorities manage to cover those potential new applicants who were no longer eligible for ILF. Did they support independent living or so called ‘choice and control’? Of course not! The funds were not matched, and their support continues to be cut because of central Governments 28 billion cuts to local authorities. As Kate Belgrave said in 2012 “This Cheshire woman, who was also in the substantial needs band, had run out of care hours on the day that I visited. I found her alone in her home lying next to a sick bucket. Who honestly thinks that the future holds local authority safety nets?” The latest film below attests that things have become worse, not better
DPAC continually receive emails from people who find their care hours slashed or completely removed-they can move from substantial to ineligible in a very short space of time. The cry that ‘choice and control’ will prevail can only be seen as the last vestiges of misguided hope by those who work on this thing called ‘co-production’ with Government departments- surely they cant really believe what they are saying anymore- the carnage is all around us. The fact that the Care Act replaces the term ‘independent living’ with the bizarre term ‘well-being’ (despite the best efforts of Inclusion London to stop it) shows how the notion of co-production has made fools of us all. The fact is that if ILF funds do move to the black hole of local authorities without being ring-fenced on the expected date of full closure of ILF in June 2015-we all lose.
ILF users took the Government to court in 2012/2013 They lost, they appealed and they won. John Pring reported ‘They [the court] ruled that Esther McVey, the former minister for disabled people, breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty, which required her to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for disabled people’. There was also a plea from Stuart Brackling ( one of the plaintiffs) that a ILF task force of ILF users be set up to discuss issues with Government- a plea that has also been put to Labour’s shadow disability minister Kate Green by ILF users. But we haven’t seen it materialise. Disability Rights UK (DRUK) suggested something similar, but their task force seemed to be DRUK itself. After DRUK’s Independent Living conference sponsored by Creagmoor where the issue of ILF was raised only by angry delegates amazed that ILF was no where to be seen in the program of an independent living conference-we’re really not sure what to expect anymore.
Of course after the first court case the DWP did an equality impact assessment that said people weren’t guaranteed the same amounts or support, that some may end up with no support, and that it was business as usual.
A new court challenge is being held on 22nd and 23rd October with a vigil on the 22nd at 12.30. If we don’t fight this, then we, our children and their children will continue to be subject to limited levels of support based around a ‘clean and feed’ model, or no support at all-if you don’t want that then please join us. Support the ILF users and support your future too.
We need to show all political parties that they have got this very wrong. As Jenny Morris says ‘Unanswered question(still): What’s your plan for these people whose lives we apparently can’t afford?’