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Independent Living Fund (ILF) payments for disabled people in Northern Ireland are to be administered in Scotland, it was announced yesterday.

The UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is closing the ILF, and from 1 July 2015 the ILF will be devolved to the devolved administrations and local authorities in England.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Simon Hamilton revealed yesterday than an agreement has been reached in principle, that payments to ILF recipients in Northern Ireland will be administered through the ILF infrastructure currently being established in Scotland.

In a written statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Minister said: “In Northern Ireland, responsibility and funding for the administration and payment of ILF users will transfer from the Department of Social Development to my Department.

“We’ve carried out a public consultation on how ILF users in Northern Ireland would be best supported after the closure of the ILF at the end of June 2015 by the UK Government. It was clear that the majority of respondees preferred Option 2: Form a successor body.

“I have liaised closely with my counterpart in the Scottish Government, Health Secretary Shona Robison, and we have reached an in-principle agreement that ILF payments for users in Northern Ireland will be administered through the newly-created Scottish system.

“This is the most cost-effective solution to ensure that ILF recipients in Northern Ireland continue to benefit, and I am pleased that we have been able to work with the administration in Scotland to achieve this.”

The Scottish Government’s Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The new Independent Living Fund Scotland company (ILF Scotland) has been established by Scottish Ministers to deliver services to the 2,900 existing users of ILF in Scotland from 1 July 2015.

“I am delighted that our agreement with Northern Ireland DHSSPS will mean that ILF Scotland will provide the same high quality service to Northern Ireland’s 612 existing ILF recipients.”

ILF services will continue to be provided on the same basis as the former UK ILF, says the Northern Ireland Government.

Minister Hamilton added: “I am confident that recipients of the ILF in Northern Ireland, their families and carers will welcome this important development, which underscores my commitment that my Department would do all that it could to ensure that ILF recipients in Northern Ireland would not be disadvantaged by DWP’s decision to close the fund.”