Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Kate Green MP, has refused demands from campaigners to save the disabled persons Independent Living Fund (ILF).
The ILF permanently closed to new applications in December 2010 and will be completely abolished from 30 June 2015, after the high court upheld the Government’s decision to close the fund.
Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will decide how ILF users in their areas will be supported. While councils in England will support severely disabled people through local authority social care arrangements.
However, campaigners claim funding cuts could mean that local authorities in England will be unable to provide disabled people with high quality support.
Others fear councils will bring in private contractors, who would not necessarily be subject to the same level of public scrutiny and transparency.
The ILF provides financial support to disabled people, so they can choose to live in their communities rather than in residential care.
In response to a letter from ILF campaigner Brian Hilton, Kate Green writes:
“Thank you for our further email, and apologies for not getting back to you before now on the English, Welsh and Scottish material you sent me, which in fact I have been considering very carefully – particularly, as you suggest, the options being considered by the Welsh Assembly Government.
“I do need to start by being clear that it’s not Labour’s position to retain the ILF. That’s because I believe that there is now a real opportunity, and indeed a pressing need, to develop a sustainable model of provision for the most severely disabled people within the integrated health and social care landscape that Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall have been articulating, rather than continuing with a standalone fund.
“I say this not least because an incoming government will immediately embark on a full review to set three year spending plans, and I think it’s vital that the spending review process has the concept of independent living at its heart. I’m therefore working closely with colleagues in the shadow health and CLG teams to establish the principles that will govern our approach.
“We of course want to ensure recipients continue to be supported once the ILF has closed, which our proposed guidance to local authorities is intended to address, but our wider purpose is to ensure a sustainable model of provision that protects people’s ability to live independently in the way that they choose.”
The campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is calling on disabled persons organisations and individuals to lobby their MPs.