Disability News

Disabled people in legal bid to save living fund

The High Court is to begin hearing a challenge to government plans to scrap a £320m scheme that helps people with severe disabilities live independently.

The six disabled people bringing the judicial review will question the legality of the move to close the Independent Living Fund from 2015.

More than 19,000 people in the UK get payments from the ILF.

The government says councils, which administer most social care, will take over funding this help.

The claimants fear disabled people could be forced out of independent living arrangements and into residential care, or trapped at home by the fund's closure.

Questioning the legality of the consultation and subsequent decision by the government, the court challenge will argue:

  • There have not been clear reasons given for closing the fund
  • The consultation featured inadequate information on the differences between the fund and local authority assessment and provision
  • There has not been proper assessment of the impact of the change on disabled people's ability to live and work independently

The Department for Work and Pensions says help for disabled people has been fundamentally changed by personal budgets, intended to give recipients more control, and that it makes sense to have a single system administered by local authorities.

The ILF was established in 1988, but the government decided in 2010 that it had become "no longer appropriate or sustainable" to keep running the scheme outside the mainstream social care system.

The fund closed to new applicants soon afterwards.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said councils could not afford to "pick up the tab".

"Local care and support for disabled people is already underfunded to the tune of £1.2bn and councils are already struggling to cope.

"Not getting the support to wash, dress and leave your home is unacceptable. The government needs to invest more in social care to prevent disabled people being condemned to a life without basic dignity and invisible from society."

The ILF pays out an average of £300 a week per recipient.