Saturday 16 October 2010

Fate of disability quangos becomes slightly clearer

Last month, we posted that a number of vital disability quangos were facing the axe as part of the government's spending review. On Thursday 14 October, a list detailing the fate of all the quangos under review was published. Of those that affect disabled people, things are not much clearer.

Perhaps most importantly, the Disability Living Allowance/Attendance Allowance Advisory Board is to be closed. It no longer qualifies as an NDPB*  and its functions are to be transferred to both the Department for Work and Pensions, with external specialist advice if required, and Equality 2025.

The Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee is also to be closed, as it too no longer has NDPB status. The government says it it is still "exploring options for continuing to gain the disability advice we need through a more flexible, accountable structure". This leaves our transport issues in limbo, as once the committee is shut down it could be months or even years before any announcement is made as to who or what will take over its function. And in the meantime, nothing will happen.

Equality 2025 will also take on responsibility for the functions of the Disability Employment Advisory Committee, which again no longer has NDPB status.

Both the Independent Living Fund and Remploy are officially "under consideration"** with options still being looked at. On the one hand, that might not be a bad thing - no decision has been made yet as to whether to keep them as they stand. On the other hand, if they do go, their replacements could be far worse, assuming they are actually replaced.

Lastly, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to be retained and substantially reformed, with "better focus on its core regulatory functions and improved use of taxpayers' money". Let's hope the changes will put finally disability equality on a par with racial and gender equality.

* Non-Departmental Public Body. NDPBs may have either an executive or advisory role.

** "Under consideration" means "part of an existing wider review, including the spending review, or under specific consideration as part of public bodies reforms".

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  1. The ILF is closed to new people. I was reviewed last week and my money has gone down slightly. This is said to be because my benefits have gone up. However, it leaves me with, for the first time, a situation where my Direct Payment money has been increased in order to pay an employee pay rise (as prescribed my local authority, 1% back dated to april), so I need to increase my contribution, over and above the ILF contribution guidelines to pay the pay rise on the ILF funding (almost £90 a week already for someone on Income Support) - or it follows to only pay the new higher rate to employees paid by the Direct Payments funding! So apart from the difficulty in working out who is paid by which funding how on earth could that be fair? - talk about great human resources practice!!)

  2. I wonder if anyone will use this as a good opportunity to campaign for the reinstatement of the Disability Rights Commission?

    I was never happy about that being swallowed up by the EHRC (although my experience of them was good I have to say) because I think we need very specific advice and support when it comes to our rights that can't be given by an 'umbrella group'.