The government’s decision to axe the Independent Living Fund will have ‘catastrophic’ consequences for disabled people, according to the Unite union.
The quality of life for 18,000 disabled people will be seriously eroded by yesterday’s announcement that the ILF will close in June 2015, said the union’s equalities officer Siobhan Endean, who added that the union has no confidence that local government, already suffering swingeing funding cuts, can provide the same standard of care to disabled people as the ILF allows.
The union fears the move will lead to ‘a postcode lottery’, and it hit out at the government for sidestepping a judicial review which ruled against the closure of the ILF last November.
“Unite believes that the closure of the Independent Living Fund will have a catastrophic impact on disabled people and their right to live independent and fulfilling lives,” said Endean.
“The government has shown a complete disregard for disabled people and the Court of Appeal decision. The right to independent living is now enshrined as one of the principles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
“The government had previously tried to close the ILF to new applicants and intended to transfer responsibility to local authorities – where massive cuts have been made and will continue to be made. The people, who benefit from the ILF, will now face a local government postcode lottery.”
The government’s plans to close the ILF were challenged in a judicial review last November by a group of disabled people who won a final ruling that prevented the closure. The government, it ruled, had failed to comply with the equality duty.
“This was a rare victory entirely due to disabled people fighting back,” said Endean.
“Ministers decided not to appeal, but have instead carried out a new equality impact assessment to justify the closure. Many other changes to benefits and local authority services are also undermining independent living.”