The cut our Government thought you wouldn't care about

Independent living enables disabled people with high support needs to be in control of their lives - and this could soon be compromised

Share
Related Topics

On Wednesday a group of five disabled people lost a judicial review in the High Court over the Government's plan to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a resource which enables them to live independent lives.

The group have since decided to appeal this decision.

Independent living enables disabled people with high support needs to be in control of when and how they receive assistance with everyday tasks.  It’s about choosing when you get up, go to the toilet, eat a meal, get dressed, go out etc.  Many of us would argue that these are basic human rights which non-disabled people tend to take for granted.  But when a person is unable to perform such tasks for themselves, a cost gets attached to them and people’s rights get forgotten.

Furthermore, this cut is nothing to do with the now-familiar rhetoric of scroungers and cheats.  It is directly aimed at around 19,000 disabled people with the highest support needs.  Just off the top of my head, we users of the ILF include actors, TV presenters, PhD students, chief executives, consultants, trainers, a life peer and at least two stand-up comedians.  Many of us have pushed the boundaries for disability rights in our communities and/or respective fields of work.  I believe our society as a whole will be the poorer if we have to move into residential institutions, as many of us fear will happen, because funding is no longer available for us to live independently in the community.

The judicial review focused on the way in which the consultation over the closure was carried out.  Even though I rely on the ILF myself, I did not respond to the consultation.  I have to confess that, in recent years I have become disillusioned with the whole process of Governments consulting with the public, as I can no longer see how my individual contribution makes any difference.  Therefore I was interested to read in the internal government papers released during the high court case that:

As we expected with the current challenges facing the care and support system, the majority of ILF users are opposed to closure of the fund, with many doing so on the basis that there could be no guarantee that their current level of funding would be protected in the future.

This begs the question: what was the point of asking users for their opinions in the first place if they had already predicted what the majority response would be and decided to ignore it?  They even go on to claim that they have “listened” to users. This is the kind of behaviour that is causing people like me to lose faith in our political system.

Furthermore the papers emphasise focusing on “the key message that this is about reform, not cuts”.  This is despite the fact that ILF funding will only be transferred to local authorities for one year after its closure, after which time it will disappear altogether.  I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a cut to me!

The so-called reform is meant to streamline our piecemeal social care system by transferring responsibilities solely to local authorities.  Whilst there’s no doubt that the system needs simplification, local authorities are already under huge financial pressures and, as a result are cutting people’s support packages left, right and centre.  We users of the ILF are already being told that, when we are reassessed by our local authorities, we probably won’t get the same level of support.  Some local authorities have even considered forcing people with the highest support needs into residential homes in order to save money.

Furthermore the Government intends to introduce national eligibility standards for social care by 2015, which will end the postcode lottery and enable people to move to different areas and take their support packages with them.  At the moment, it is difficult to see the already cash-strapped local authorities being able to co-ordinate and deliver this joined-up approach.  But an organisation like the ILF, which already assesses and supports disabled people across the country on an equitable basis, would be well-placed to oversee this bold, new initiative, were it to be saved.

It also does not make financial sense to transfer ILF funding to local authorities.  Disabled People Against Cuts carried out a survey and found that two councils spent over 20 per cent of the total adult social care budget on overheads.  The lowest spending on overheads by a local authority was 10 per cent.  In comparison, the overhead costs of the ILF are only two per cent of their total budget.

The papers released during the judicial review reveal that the Government was banking on the closure of the ILF receiving very little attention from the public and mainstream media because it only affects relatively few people.  They are calculating on the British public not caring enough about our human rights.  I hope they have miscalculated.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat