A judicial review has been launched to challenge the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation on closing the Independent Living Fund (ILF). Six disabled claimants who receive support from the ILF have started judicial review proceedings to challenge the consultation, which closed on 12th October.
The ILF is a body of the DWP but under the management of independent trustees. Since it was created in 1988 it has helped many thousands of disabled people to live independent lives. It has targeted support at the most severely disabled people in the UK who face the greatest barriers to independent living, enabling them to remain living in the community rather than in residential care, to work, and play an active part in their community as full citizens. In 2010 the fund was closed to new applicants because the government had reduced the amount of money it gave to the fund. It is now proposing that the fund close completely in 2015, leaving users to rely on local authority adult care services. This is at a time when the funding for local authorities is being dramatically reduced and many authorities are cutting services for disabled people.
The basis of the challenge is that the consultation does not comply with the basic legal requirements:
- The government has failed to explain why it is only considering closing the fund, rather than other options, such as continuing the fund and re-opening it to young adults who want to live independent lives.
- It does not give enough information about the difference between local authority assessment and provision and the ILF. Local authority services focus on basic needs whereas the ILF is about enabling people to be independent, to work and be full citizens;
- The government has failed to undertake any assessment of the way disabled people will be affected by the proposals, in breach of their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010.
The claimants are asking the court to make a declaration that the consultation is unlawful and that any decision that is based on the consultation is unlawful. The DWP have until 30th of October to put forward its defence.
For more information on DPAC please click here