1. Government’s plans for the future of the Independent Living Fund
On Monday 18 November, Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams will ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Ian Duncan Smith:
‘What plans he has for the future of the Independent Living Fund.’
It is unclear what the Government’s response will be, but the question will be asked at 2.30pm.
It will be live on the BBC’s Parliament channel.
2. Sad News From Norway
We regret to report the sad news of the death of Bente Skansgard, the former President of the European Network on Independent Living and founder of ULOBA, a self-organised personal assistance cooperative with about 1000 disabled members throughout Norway. The following links to articles on the European Network on Independent Living web site provide more information about Bente’s life and work:
The link below is to the pages on ULOBA’s web site in English which give background material on this significant organisation which so few disabled people know anything about in Britain:
Disability rights and anti-bedroom tax campaigner Pam Duncan has announced she is seeking nomination as Labour candidate for the forthcoming by-election in Falkirk.
More information from: http://pamduncan.com
Anyone wishing to express support for Pam can do so on Facebook at ‘Pam Duncan for Falkirk’.
4. News from the Independent Living Fund
Following the Court of Appeal’s quashing of Esther McVey’s decision last year to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF), the DWP has stopped all processes within the ILF associated with preparing the Fund for closure. This is consistent with the Government’s assertion during the legal challenge to the ILF’s closure that no irreversible decisions or actions would be taken until 2014.
The ILF has suspended the Transfer Review Programme (TRP) that began in April 2013. It has instructed local authorities to destroy all information gathered so far during reviews that have taken place of ‘Group 1’ users that they did not have contact with previously. Consent for the data shared was specific to the TRP, therefore local authorities no longer have permission to keep it.
An ILF user is in Group 1 if they first received funding from the Independent Living Fund before 1 April 1993. While many have since 1993 approached their local authority for additional support on top of their ILF funding, there are hundreds of ILF users who have never had contact with their local social services. Any files on Group 1 users, who only have contact with ILF, that have already been handed to Local Authorities must now be destroyed.
The ILF is writing to all Group 1 users this affects. The ILF will also be writing to all its users to explain what will happen next. If there are any significant developments, the ILF has a ‘News’ section on its web pages through which it issues any statements or information. This can be found at:
5. DWP’s response to the Court of Appeal judgement
On 6 November, the Department for Work and Pensions issued a short statement through the ILF News page about the Appeal Court judgement which included the assertion:
“The judgement upheld the Department’s position on the consultation exercise itself, accepting that it had been carried out properly and fairly. They found that more documentary evidence was required to demonstrate that the Minister for Disabled People had considered all parts of the public sector equality duty fully.”
This is not an entirely accurate representation of what the Appeal Court said.
Information about the judgement can be found on the web site of solicitors Scott-Moncrieff Associates at:
6. ‘Victory For Independent Living Rights In English Appeal Court’ Statement
The statement issued by three ILF users involved in the ILF legal challenge can be found on Disabled People Against Cuts web site at:
It has also been published on the web sites of: Inclusion London, Disability Action In Islington, the European Network on Independent Living, We Are Spartacus, Disability Wales, The Hardest Hit Campaign, Disability Wales, Independent Living In Scotland, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland and the Sisters of Frida. The statement has also been published by a number of blogs including False Economy, and the Scottish Campaign For A Fair Society and National Shop Stewards Network.
7. Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Trailblazers network ILF statement
Tanvi Vyas, Trailblazers Project Manager following the judgement said:
“We are delighted that the Government are not appealing this decision and will be reviewing it’s future based on further advice. However we would urge the Government to secure the future of the ILF as it is a lifeline for many disabled people who lead active independent lives. Many other disabled people could benefit from this, and the fact that future applications have closed is to the detriment of many disabled people who want to lead fulfilling independent lives.”
8. Responses to the Appeal Court judgement
• Disabled People Against Cuts
• Inclusion London
• Equality and Human Rights Commission
• Disability Rights UK
• Public and Commercial Services Union
9. Articles responding to the Appeal Court judgement
• Tourette’s Hero arguing for ‘The Right To An Active Life’ and what it means not to have the option of applying to the Independent Living Fund:
• A very positive and supportive article by Ros Wynne-Jones in the Mirror which includes a video of ILF users outside the Royal Courts of Justice:
• Disability Now article featuring support for the Appeal Court victory from John Evans, one of the founders of the independent living rights movement in Britain, who said:
“I was surprised by the judgement because I was expecting the worst. We’ve had such a drastic and terrible five or six years. I’d painted a really black picture so this has made it even better for me. I’ve got nothing but admiration for those five people who put their lives and bodies on the line, who took the government to court, damaged them and won.”
• An interesting article from Simon Stevens satirical blog in the Huffington Post which uses the devices of ‘incoherence’ and ‘drivel’ to shed new light on disability matters:
• Comment from Stephen Naysmith in the The Herald:
• Kate Belgrave article and video on False Economy:
• BBC TV report and article by Clive Coleman about the Appeal Court victory
• An agnostic article by Rich Watts on his Arbitrary Consent blog which manages to combine welcoming the Appeal Court victory with the defence of Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson’s appalling ‘independent review’ of the Independent Living Fund in 2006 which recommended it should close given the planned introduction of personal budgets, a key component of the ‘personalisation’ policy. Watts blog will no doubt have been welcomed by his employer, the quietly influential National Development Team for Inclusion, because if the rationale and methodology of the Henwood/Hudson report is ever scrutinised and discredited, it would throw the door open to a re-examination of ‘personalisation’ and its consequences, and the role of those who have developed and championed it:
and here is DPAC’s scrutiny of the Henwood and Hudson report including a critique of the appalling methodology and time-scale of it.
with thanks and acknowledgement to Independent Living Rights News