Great result: disabled people celebrate victory over government to save the Independent Living Fund
Here's a video we took outside the Royal Courts of Justice today where the Court of Appeal today upheld a legal challenge by five disabled people against the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund. There's more video at the end of this post in which people who receive ILF funding talk about the reasons why that fund is so central to their lives.
As lawyers Deighton Pierce Glynn reported, the court held that the Minister for Disabled People had breached equality duties when making the decision in December 2012 to close the ILF. The Court of Appeal has quashed the decision.
Said ILF recipient Jenny Hurst: “I think it is absolutely fantastic. It is the right decision. The consultation [the process the government used to justify the closure] was definitely flawed. The closure of the Independent Living Fund would have an absolutely terrible impact on people like myself and people that I work with. We can breathe a sigh of relief for the moment.”
The ILF was set up in 1988 as a stand-alone fund to which people with severe disabilities could apply for money for added carer hours.
That extra money meant that people could afford to pay carers for the help that they needed – round-the-clock, in some cases – to live independent lives. The decision to close the fund was appalling and would have left people with dangerously low levels of care support.
The inescapable fact is that cash-strapped councils can't meet care demands as it is. Provision is already a catastrophe. Councils are tightening care eligibility criteria and only funding people who have "substantial" or "critical" needs. Councils have been taken to court for trying to restrict care, or for increasing charges, or for capping care packages.
Said David Wolfe QC today: “The court has held is that the government minister didn't properly look at the impacts on disabled people and that was unlawful. Parliament has said that government ministers, like every other public decision maker, has to take into account the impact in disabled people of what they're doing. They [the government] haven't said that they will try to appeal, so we're waiting for that in the next few days. Assuming they don't appeal, they will now need to go back and think about what they want to do. Obviously, the appellants hope that the government doesn't carry on with the closure, but the government can rethink again as long as it does it lawfully.”
A very good victory for ILF recipients, Disabled People Against Cuts and Inclusion London. Very important to keep the pressure on, too, and for people to support the campaign for independent living. Follow Disabled People Against Cuts for updates and plans.
Sophie Partridge on the reasons why the ILF is central to her independent living as a disabled person:
ILF recipient Gabriel Pepper on fighting the government to keep the independent living fund
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