[Forum] Scrapping of the Independent Living Fund

Dear Editor,

On the same day in December that the Conservative-led government published its plans for the Big Society (the Localism Bill) and announced how much money it was (or wasn’t) giving local councils, another announcement was quietly slipped out.

This announcement related to the winding up of a scheme called the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF was established in 1988, by the Thatcher government of all governments, and makes payments to disabled people to help them lead a more independent life in their community. The £359million fund currently supports around 21,000 people nationally who receive an average £300 a week to help them pay for carers so they can live at home and not in a care home.

One of the first acts of the new Conservative-led government in June was to close the scheme to new applicants. The latest announcement is that the scheme will be shut down entirely in 2015.

In South Gloucestershire, there are around 55 people who benefit from the scheme and receive just under £1million between them. Last year, 6 new applicants were able to benefit from just under £120,000 in support.

Closure of this scheme will make it harder for disabled people to live at home and potentially put extra strain on the NHS, places offering full-time care and the local council. Indeed, as part of next year’s budget South Gloucestershire Council is already having to set aside money which will mean cuts in other places.

Apparently, according to Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, we are all in this together. But somehow, when announcements are quietly slipped out like this, it doesn’t feel like it.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Andy Perkins,
Councillor for Woodstock ward, Kingswood and Labour Group Spokesperson on Adult Social Services,
South Gloucestershire Council