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“A future without the ILF is terrifying:” government’s new attack on the Independent Living Fund

Penny Pepper

Photo: Penny Pepper by Charles Shearer at snapsthoughts

Yesterday, disabilities minister Mike Penning announced a renewed government attack on the Independent Living Fund - the fund that severely disabled people use to pay for the extra carer hours they need to live independent lives.

Without that money, people will rely entirely on the cash-strapped council social care system for care funding. They face lives in carehomes. ILF money is often used to top up council funding for care. 

It is no secret that councils can’t meet demand for care as it is. Anyone who says otherwise is dreaming. Many councils have tightened eligibility criteria for care. Our own FOI numbers showed that more than 7000 disabled and elderly people had lost some or all of their state-funded support after cash-strapped councils changed their rules on who qualified for social care.

Last year, disabled people and campaigners had a major victory when the court of appeal overturned a 2012 government decision to close the fund. As John Pring reported here, "the judges ruled that Esther McVey – at the time the minister for disabled people – had breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty when making the decision to close the fund in December 2012." Now the government is back and saying it will close the fund by the end of June 2015.

The three videos on this page feature people who will be directly affected by the closure decision. We made these films last year as people fought for the fund through the courts.

Sophie Partridge

In this video, Sophie Partridge - a freelance creative practitioner from Islington and a long-term ILF recipient - talks about the realities of requiring round-the-clock care.

She explains that having PAs (carers) makes it possible for her to live a busy and productive life like everyone is entitled to. She also talks about why she refuses to contemplate being forced into residential care if she loses funding for carers - if the fund is closed and her council can't make up the proportion of her care package that the ILF currently pays for: “We can't go back 30 odd years. It's just not going to happen...Even if they deported us all tomorrow into some sort of home, homes don't provide those levels of care.”


 

Gabriel Pepper

Gabriel Pepper, 42, began his working life as an archaeologist after completing a Phd. He has had three brain tumours. He has sight, speech and mobility impairments. The ILF pays over half of his care costs.
 


Penny Pepper

In this video, Penny Pepper - an Islington journalist and writer who has been receiving ILF payments for about 16 years – gives her views on the planned ILF devolution. Like Sophie Partridge, Penny Pepper requires 24-7 care support. Islington council funds just over half of that and the ILF pays for the rest. She believes that an independent funding structure like the ILF – run by people with disabilities themselves – is crucial to ensuring funding for people with complex needs.




 

Read a statement from Disabled People Against Cuts on the government's renewed attempt at closure:

"Liz Carr who plays Clarissa Mullery in BBC’s Silent Witness says:

“The closure of the Independent Living Fund will inevitably lead to the erosion of  independence, inclusion and freedom for disabled people who have high levels of need. I am one of the 18,000 people in the UK who receive support from the ILF and it is this funding to pay people to do the things I physically can’t do which enables me to get up in the morning, work and have the same kinds of opportunities as everyone else.  

"I don’t think I’m being overdramatic when I say that yesterday's news is devastating to those of us whose lives and existence owes a great deal to the Independent Living Fund. How can already strapped for cash local authorities take up the slack when the fund closes in the summer of 2015?  How many of us are going to lose our independence as residential care provides a more cost effective option?  A future without the ILF is terrifying."

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