The quality of life 18,000 disabled people currently enjoy will be seriously eroded by today’s (Thursday 6 March) announcement that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will be axed in June 2015.
Unite, the country’s largest union, described the government’s decision as ‘catastrophic’ and said it had no confidence that local government, already suffering swingeing funding cuts, could provide the same standard of care to the disabled as the ILF presently allows.
Unite feared that ‘a postcode lottery’ would be created and hit out at the government’s sidestepping a judicial review in November which ruled in favour of preventing the closure of the ILF.
Unite national officer for equalities Siobhan Endean said: “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.
“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 by a group of disabled people in November 2013 who won a final ruling that prevented the closure. The government had failed to comply with the equality duty – this was a rare victory entirely due to disabled people fighting back.
“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.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.