Just days before Christmas the UK Government have announced the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2015 and the mass destruction of the lives and aspirations of over 19,000 disabled people with the highest support needs. Those the UK Government had promised they’d give the most support to.
The loss of PCS members’ jobs in an area with few other work opportunities will also destroy the lives of those who work for the ILF and their families. Who else but millionaires with no idea of people’s fears could make such an announcement at this time of year?
However, we all need to consolidate our opposition to this brutal announcement over the no-longer festive season and plan how to continue to oppose this planned closure next year.
The consultation responses by Local Authorities showed one after the other saying the loss of ILF without ring-fenced funding would lead to a return to residential care for most disabled people, which is in breach of the UN CRPD. The responses flagged the much higher costs that would be involved in this. The average costs of keeping a disabled person in the abusive setting of Winterbourne View was £3,500 per week, Independent Living for those with the highest needs is a much cheaper as well as a more desirable option.
DPAC and disabled activists now really do have nothing more to lose and our own fight back will reflect that- so watch out Government – there will be nothing barred from now on and we’ll be targeting you.
We hope as well to work closely with all PCS members at ILF and elsewhere to combat this regressive decision and force a U-turn starting in the New Year and including our court cases against the closure in March.
Here is an account from Doug: one person’s story of how important ILF funding is to disabled people with high support needs.
I thought you might like to know about a friend of mine, as an awful case study of this situation. My friend I shall call J. I’ve met her on holiday, then we’ve arranged to go on holiday at the same time and the same place (respite adventure centre) for several years, as we’ve got on well and have a similar mindset. She’s a wheelchair user with communication difficulties (uses a talker, slowly), needs assistance with various tasks. She’s highly intelligent and very knowledgeable / astute.
Having been abandoned by her family (to cut a long story short) she
ended up in residential care; first a residential school then a
nursing home. She experienced all the frustrations common to such
environments, which I know so well.
As such I found her more than somewhat a kindred spirit when I
expressed frustration and disbelief at some of the things to which I
was being subjected in the care home. She knew better than anybody
else what it’s like to be a rights-thinker in residential care, so to
She got out of residential care. Bucking the trend, she did so whilst she was
still alive – as we know, most people only “escape” residential care feet
foremost! With the substantial assistance of one of the workers, who
she took with her and who by her account is a rather marvelous and
unusual person, she moved into her own bungalow, arranged direct
payments and now lives independently. An amazing achievement given the
institutional barriers on top of the other barriers she experiences as
a disabled person.
She’s been living in her own bungalow now for I think over 15 years.
She would not have been able to achieve that without ILF. ILF has now
been shut to new applicants for a couple of years. So the sad thing
is, other people won’t be able to follow in her footsteps; even if
they overcome all the other barriers to getting out of residential care, ILF
is no longer around.
What is even sadder is that J now faces the possibility (I would say
probability) of being forced to move back into residential care. There
is to be a decision on what happens with regard to existing ILF claims
after the next couple of years. We don’t know what’s going to happen
with that, which leaves J in an incredible situation of uncertainty
about her future life. I also strongly suspect that the decision will
be that ILF will be withdrawn.
This, together with the cutting of council social services that we are
all know about (a la Southampton), leads to potentially disastrous
consequences for J. In a sobering moment, J told me that she hopes she
dies before she has to go back into residential care.
This statement was released by Disabled People against Cuts ( DPAC). For more information about Disabled People Against Cuts please visit www.dpac.uk.net