Note: A version of this post is cross-posted at arbitrary constant
A Written Ministerial Statement from the DWP today states that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will be closed in 2015. As well as this, it says that existing ILF users cannot be assured of receiving the level of support they currently get post-2015.
In the same breath as saying the government is committed to disability equality and choice and control for disabled people, the statement says that ILF is "discretionary" and "financially unsustainable".
This has been coming (and it appears the Sundar Mirror yesterday was right). I blogged back in June that the ILF was essentially closed for business.
But that doesn't make today less of a shock. Others will highlight what a disaster this will be for the 21,000 ILF recipients, for the simple fact that it is. When taken in combination with the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance announced last week, it's nothing short of an out-and-out attack on disabled people.
And to know who we're talking about here, note that the ILF delivers financial support to disabled people in order to advance standards of independent living. In order to access ILF, an individual must already get at least £340pw support from a Council and get the higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, as well as have less than £23k in savings/capital.
This means that ILF is focused on those people with some of the highest and most complex support needs there are.
Even though it already had significant reputation problems in this area, the government can't speak with any sort of credibility on the topic of disability equality any more.
Indeed, what the government says on disability issues is a world away from the reality of its actions.
(As an aside the Written Statement says it will hold a consultation "next year" to determine what will happen to the existing users on ILF post-2015. That's a number of months for ILF recipients to worry, without even having the opportunity to have their say on the cut. It also gives the impression that the government's overriding concern is to simply save the ILF's £359m budget and transfer the responsibility to that well-known set of organisations literally swimming in money, erm, Local Councils.)