Disabled face losing homes under benefit cutbacks

Leaked documents warned ministers that reform would penalise the most vulnerable

Money for paying to carers can no longer be relied upon under the reforms
Money for paying to carers can no longer be relied upon under the reforms

Some of Britain's most vulnerable disabled people could be forced out of their homes and into institutionalised care because of cuts to carers' allowances, Government papers show.

Money relied upon by 19,000 disabled people to pay for carers, who allow them to maintain an independent life, cannot be guaranteed under reforms that would see local authorities handed the duty of providing the payments instead.

The outcome of a High Court legal challenge seeking to prevent the Independent Living Fund (ILF) being scrapped – launched by six disabled people backed by the protest group Inclusion London, who argue they were not properly consulted – will be made public today.

But documents released during the course of the hearings and seen by The Independent show that advisers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) accept that many disabled people will see their allowances cut as a result of the changes.

Under partly redacted papers previously marked "restricted", trustees for the fund maintained by the DWP advised the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith: "Users are unlikely to receive the same level of funding after reassessment. This may undermine care packages and may mean that some users, such as those with particularly high care packages, may not be able to live independently in their own homes."

A Government spokesman also said that the changes mean "most users are likely to see some reduction in current funding levels," and that "there can be no guarantees on how the devolved funding is used" by local authorities as money for the allowances cannot be ring-fenced.

Despite these concessions, he maintained: "It is absolutely critical that any decision to close the fund is positioned and received as a reform, not a cut to support." He added: "It is also important that we do not create any expectation that individual awards can be protected into the future."

The ILF was closed to new recipients in 2010, and now the Coalition wants to move current users on to an alternative system.

To the outrage of those concerned, today's Judicial Review announcement will be delivered in a courtroom with restricted access to disabled people. A member of staff described the process of getting a person in a wheelchair into the courtroom as "very complicated".

Juliet Marlow, 43, who has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, said she is only able to live at home in Hampshire with her husband thanks to the £2,000 a month she receives from the ILF to pay for carers. "They help me with everything," she said. "Getting meals, getting dressed, showers, work, going to university, cleaning. It's not just about surviving, it's about having a life."

A DWP spokesperson said it was working "to ensure the remaining users have their needs met in a single cohesive system." The spokesperson added: "Nearly 1.6 million disabled people across the UK already receive support through local authority and devolved administrations social care arrangements."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in