Statement on Bristol Green Group’s motion on the future of the Independent Living Fund 16 September 2014.
Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF) support Bristol Green group’s motion on the future of the Independent Living Fund (ILF.)
Having led local campaigning and held discussions with representatives across all the major parties within Bristol, we call on our Mayor to support this motion. This is an opportunity for our city to support the rights of it’s Disabled citizens to live independent lives.
The ILF has made it possible for thousands of Disabled people with high support needs to live in their own homes, contribute to family and community life and to take part in work and education. The closure of the ILF will have a drastic impact on these Disabled people, their family members and communities.
The ILF has supported a diverse group of Disabled people, including people with learning difficulties, and also autistic people. The ILF has made it possible for people to live at home with their families and with the support of their choice. Bristol is in the shadow of Winterbourne View, so the alternative is never far from our thoughts.
The threat of living an isolated existence, or being forced into residential care, is very real for ILF recipients in Bristol, many of whom are Forum members. There are also many other Disabled people who have been denied this vital support, since the ILF was closed to new applicants in 2010.
This all has come at a time when Disabled people have already been hit the hardest by welfare reform, cuts to services and combined impact of austerity measures. It is for these reasons that we view the closure of the ILF as part of a wider agenda that affects all Disabled people.
The closure of the ILF will shift responsibility to local councils, placing already cash-strapped authorities under more financial pressure. This will increase the risk of councils failing to meet their public duties, resulting in legal challenges and further appeals.
The ILF has created thousands of jobs and meant that central government funding is spent and re-invested locally. The ILF is one of the most cost effective public sector schemes1, with just 2% spent on administration much less than local councils. The satisfaction ‘user rate’ for the ILF is over 97%2.
The Government accept that the ILF is more flexible than the services provided by some councils. The government have also stated that most current ILF recipients will face changes to support or reduction in funding.3
Closing the ILF is also likely to result in an increase in spending in the long-term, as result of reduced health and wellbeing and increased pressure on more expensive services.
Government has claimed that developments such as Direct Payments, Personal Budgets and new duties on councils under the Care Act mean that the ILF is no longer needed. This ignores the evidence of Disabled people and organisations with direct experience of both systems. The Government has not prevented the care and support ‘post-code lottery’. These developments have not reduced the variation and disparity between local councils, both in how direct payments can be used and in the services available.
We feel strongly that the success of this Government funded, centrally administered scheme that is ring-fenced for those that need it most, should be built upon. This should happen by re-opening and expanding the ILF, with Disabled people playing a central role in decision making.
However, as proposed in the motion, should the ILF close, ring-fencing of funds from central government and the full involvement of Disabled people in all parts of the process is essential. This is needed to ensure our rights to independence, to live in the community, to choices equal to others and access to a range of services.
As Disabled people we want to do the ordinary things in life that many take for granted, to live and not just exist.
1 & 2. ILF Annual Report and Accounts 2013 – 2014
- 3.Equality Impact Analysis ‘Closure of the Independent Living Fund with transfer of responsibility and funding to local authorities inEngland and the devolved administrations in Scotland and ’ DWP 2014:
‘It is almost certain that closure of the ILF will mean that the majority of users will face changes to the way their support is delivered, including the real possibility of a reduction to the funding they currently receive. This is because the ILF funds some aspects of care that some local authorities do not and may also provide different levels of flexibility in the use of such funding.’
Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF) is an organisation of Disabled people, open all that identify as Disabled people, regardless of impairment in Bristol area. We develop projects and campaign to increase Disabled people’s inclusion, influence, equality and access to services.
The BDEF ILF Action Group was formed after a conference on the future of the held in Bristol in September 2013. The conference was organised by the BDEF, working alongside West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL) ILF and Council staff. Disabled people at the conference decided to form their own group, in order to campaign, share information and ensure direct involvement in any developments relating to the ILF.
For further information, please contact Laura Welti, BDEF Manager or Mark Williams, BDEF Co-Chair.
Bristol Disability Equality Forum Main Office:
Tel: 0117 914 0528.
BDEF ILF Action Group:
Text: 07867 690 422