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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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/