‘The Independent Living Fund prevented this sort of postcode lottery by which the kind of package and services you receive depends on where you live.’
Sophie is an art practitioner and writer. In the last 15 years she has received the Independent Living Fund (ILF) with which she can afford different and fairly paid carers who help her with imperative daily tasks that she is not able to do herself. Without the ILF, she wouldn’t be able to work, cultivate interests, and take any part in public life.
‘I have a personal assistant with me pretty much the whole time to do everything I can’t sort of physically do for myself. I did have joint funding through something called the Independent Living Fund, which is now being closed. Now that the ILF is being closed I am fortunate to live in a very affluent borough, where they’ve said they will pick up the ILF part of the package up until April 2016 and after that nobody knows what’s happening. The ILF prevented this postcode luxury. There’s the danger that I could in theory lose half my package. It’s scary times for everyone really.’
What is the Independent Living Fund (ILF)?
The ILF was established in 1988 to provide financial support for people living with disabilities across the UK. The fund paid an average of £300 a week to around 18,000 disabled people. Recipients of the ILF were considered to be some of the most severely disabled people in the country. The ILF was predominantly used to cover the costs of carers and personal assistants to allow those with severe disabilities to remain in their homes rather than moving to residential care homes. This money came from the central government and was given to recipients in addition to benefits given by local authorities to ensure they can keep up with the costs of care. However, in July 2015 the government ended the programme, and now funding is distributed solely by local authorities.
What are the issues with terminating the Independent Living Fund?
Former recipients of the ILF have protested its termination, worrying about the drastic effects this can have on their financial situations and overall quality of life. The national government has significantly reduced the amount of money being given to local authorities each year from £300 million to £262 million, which has reduced the amount of money available to support people with disabilities The money going to disabled people is not ring-fenced, so it is vulnerable to spending cuts that would have a negative impact on the lives of disabled people. It is probable that local authorities will have to begin making decisions based on cost rather than based on meeting the actual needs of disabled people.
Did you know?
Disabled women and women with long term health conditions make up 1/3 of all women in UK refuges.