Last year the Court of Appeal ruled that the ConDems decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was unlawful. On the 6th March 2014 it was announced that ILF would end in June 2015. Support and care needs will be transferred to local authorities.
As Independent Living Fund recipient Gabriel Pepper says in his speech to TUC disabled workers’ conference
The ILF funds 19000 people in UK, the fund costs £320 million. Disabled people took the government to court in 2013 to try and stop them closing the fund on 31st March 2015, to which the government has replied by saying they will close the fund after the general election on 30th June 2015.
The closure of the ILF will be a catastrophe to disabled people. Ladies and gentlemen, this will not be allowed to happen. They will have to hear the people speak. Yet ironically the Tories, pressured by disability campaigners, started ILF in 1988. It must have been a decision the Tories hated making.
Social care funding in England was cut by £991 million in 2011, £890 million in 2012 and local authority budgets are set to be cut by another 28% in 2013/2015. For example, in Bristol like majority of councils, we are facing massive deep and vicious cuts therefore how is the council going to fund equivalent levels of ILF support? There are currently 111 ILF recipients in Bristol, 36 of which started before 1993
John McDonnell MP argues
The Government are arguing that the Care Act 2014 will enable local authorities to provide a similar level of service, but that is not the case as far as many of the people who already experience the services offered by local authorities are concerned. There has been a cut of £3 billion in expenditure by local authorities on social care for people with disabilities. We have already seen significant cutbacks on levels of care. People who are severely disabled are now anxious that as the money transferred to local authorities is not being ring-fenced, local authorities will cut support for people with disabilities, and that support will not be protected in future.
After 2016…. who knows. But what is certain is the ConDems will continual to vilify and demonise disabled people. What I don’t really truly and utterly understand is why there’s this pressing need by the ConDems to close ILF.
Disabilities Minister Mike Penning says
Our understanding of disabled people has changed over the past 20 years, and along with it there have been significant developments in how we provide social care to disabled people so they can live independent lives.
We continue to spend £50bn a year on disabled people and the services provided to them and, as part of thegovernment’s long-term economic plan, we want to make sure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential.
What has changed? What are these significant developments? Let’s face it, this is just guff from Penning et al to cut services, support and primarily independence to disabled people. The ideology is pure class warfare and the desperation to dismantle the welfare state. And the ConDems consistently and continually show their contempt for disabled people. This move by the ConDems will push disabled people back to a time of institutions and being prisoners in their own homes. Choice will be a thing of the past along with independence.
When you look at how much is spent on ILF it’s meagre and a financial drop in the ocean when you consider the massive amounts being spent on…. warships! An estimated cost of £6.2bn is being spent on useless military weaponry. This money should be spent on public services like the ILF as opposed to warmongering….
And to quote Gabriel Pepper again
The whole matter is now unravelling and spiralling out of control, there is now a class war, but the chinless toffs in charge have no idea where they are going, they are cutting blindly, and yes, the closure of ILF is a cut. This out of touch government have shown that they believe disabled people are a waste of space and money, and that instead of living decent lives, actually we should be ground into the gutter and treated with disgust, hatred and derision, because we do not fit into the capitalistic ideal of unabated productivity and greed.
It’s time for all of us to take a stand and show solidarity with disabled activists.