An important recent post on Disabled People Against Cuts’ (DPAC) website reveals how the big disability charities once again let down the very people they claim to support by being indifferent at best to the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
As the name suggests, the fund is designed to support the most severely disabled people in living independent lives. In a chilling sign of what was to come, less than two months after this Government weren’t elected it was closed to new applications. Funding is now being devolved to local councils, who will have no legal duty to maintain the support offered under the scheme. All ILF claims are planned to end by 2015.
The closure of the fund has met fierce opposition from grassroots campaigners such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle. Documents recently revealed in a high court appeal against the fund’s closure reveal it has been met by little more than apathy from the major disability organisations.
The documents show that the DWP recognise “that upon reassessment by LA’s (Local Authorities) most users are likely to see some reduction in the current funding levels, and there are a group of users with low care needs that may not be eligible for local authority support under current needs thresholds in most LA’s.’”
Despite this – according to the DWP at least – Mencap (highest paid earner £190,000 pa*), The MS Society, and Scope (highest paid earner £140,000) all supported the closure of the scheme, although Scope’s support was weak and they showed ‘concern’. RNIB (highest paid earner £140,000) disagreed with the closure of the fund, but this disagreement was summed up as ‘weak concern’ by the DWP. Only Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland are mentioned as strongly disagreeing with the closure.
Charities will no doubt argue with the DWP’s assessment of their indifference to disabled people’s lives, however for once it seems the department may be telling the truth (stop laughing). The documents point out: “none of the largest national disability organisations requested ministerial meetings and many did not submit responses to the consultation. While we have had an increasing number of letters from MPs on users’ behalf, the proposal to close the fund has received almost no attention in the mainstream media.”
DPAC themselves have requested several meetings with ministers over the closure of the fund. All requests were ignored.
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