ILF recipient Gabriel Pepper: we must save the Independent Living Fund
Today, Independent Living Fund recipient Gabriel Pepper gives the speech on this page to the TUC disabled workers' conference. The ILF is a fund which severely disabled people use to pay for the extra care hours they need to live independent lives. The government is planning to close the fund.
Gabriel will talk about the significance of the Independent Living Fund to disabled people and the reasons why the government must not be allowed to close it. In the video, Gabriel talks about his disability and why the ILF, which pays for a lot of his care support, is so vital to him.
Thank you to the TUC to inviting me to the disabilities workers conference to talk about ILF.
Some of you maybe unsure what the ILF is. ILF stands for the Independent Living Fund, which allows disabled people to live independently in the community, starting with basics, all the way to employment.
The ILF funds 19000 people in UK, the fund costs £320 million. Disabled people took the government to court in 2013 to try and stop them closing the fund on 31st March 2015, to which the government has replied by saying they will close the fund after the general election on 30th June 2015.
The closure of the ILF will be a catastrophe to disabled people. Ladies and gentlemen, this will not be allowed to happen. They will have to hear the people speak. Yet ironically the Tories, pressured by disability campaigners, started ILF in 1988. It must have been a decision the Tories hated making.
These disabled campaigners fought hard to give us a semblance of equality. The advances they have made have been eroded by this appalling government who have used the British public against disabled people, eagerly aided by a rampant media, resulting in evil propaganda, endless TV and newspapers cramped with bogus statistics.
The hypocrisy has been ugly, but let's not lose sight of the fact that the ILF is an essential fund for disabled people in UK, without which disabled people will be forced into a life of loneliness, social deprivation and exclusion. Independence should not be the luxury of the rich.
Without the ILF all the recipients will be forced into residential care or extreme neglect at home; we will lose the ability to work and take part in family and community life, to take up opportunities in education and training. It will be a catastrophe.
At its most basic, the money from the independent living fund helps pay for a personal assistant, to meet the person’s care and support needs so life can be managed, and lived to the fullest that the person can live it. We then feel valued, a person, part of society.
By basic, I am talking about getting out of your bed in the morning, cleaning your teeth, having a shower, getting dressed, eating, using the toilet, before we even access the community.
Access to the community includes access to decent healthcare to manage your condition and levels of pain, access to accessible transport, access equality at all levels.A proportion of disabled people are in work – that’s right they are doing the right thing. This government cares about their continued abilities about as much as for the Remploy staff they mercilessly made redundant.
Disabled people in UK will not pay the price for the casino capitalism of the bloated elite. In the words of Cameron “we must spread the privilege”. Ladies and gentlemen, these people make us swear, I have to hold myself back. Disabled people demand a future. We will not be imprisoned in our homes with no life.
We don’t need to look far, to know that UK is a rich country, the seventh richest in the world, and that not content with being super rich, the richest people in the world are seeking to destroy the hard earned rights of disabled people all over the world. We must never underestimate the viciousness of the ruling class, but these brutal plutocrats will not break disabled people in UK.
Their bedroom tax has turned into a ludicrous fiasco, the universal credit roll-out has been a shambles, and the shameful closure of the independent living fund will not be allowed to occur because we have to acknowledge something bigger is happening, something which terrifies the Tory mediocrities, and yes Mr Duncan-Smith, you are a mediocrity.
The whole matter is now unravelling and spiralling out of control, there is now a class war, but the chinless toffs in charge have no idea where they are going, they are cutting blindly, and yes, the closure of ILF is a cut. This out of touch government have shown that they believe disabled people are a waste of space and money, and that instead of living decent lives, actually we should be ground into the gutter and treated with disgust, hatred and derision, because we do not fit into the capitalistic ideal of unabated productivity and greed.
In the words of our joke mayor Boris “Greed is a valuable spur to economic activity”. There is no room for disability in the new cruel Britannia. How dare we try to be independent! How dare we choose to want to live with some equality. These greedy neoliberals don’t give a sausage about the misery and the broken lives their stupid policies bring. It’s always been about shifting the blame for the financial crisis on to the innocent poor and disadvantaged.
These repeated attacks on disabled people have led us to form DPAC, (disabled people against cuts), and our sister group Black Triangle in Scotland. Yes we are proud, but we are most proud of our trade union allies who speak for the working class more than the sexist bigots of UKIP, let’s not forget that in the welfare policy of UKIP it describes us as “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”.
This government is forcing the working class to stand up, even if the Labour party can only offer us platitudes, Tony Blair, Mandy, Balls and middle class tokenism. The Labour party seem unable to reopen the independent living fund except in Scotland. But Labour don’t represent me any more, they don’t represent disabled people. No one can foretell the events of the next twelve months. Personally I am a revolutionary, and only a revolution will reopen this fund, which gives disabled people equality, inclusion and independence.
To conclude I demand ring fencing for ILF. I demand a national task force including ILF users and organisations of disabled people, to look at the whole issue and the duties of the government under national and UN law. I demand that the fund is once again open to all eligible disabled people. ILF is about human rights, I will fight for my human rights, when the Condems started a fight with disabled people in uk, they did not realise they were entering the battle of humanity.
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