UK Government decision to close fund helping disabled people live independently ruled lawful

Iain Duncan Smith decided on 6 March this year to close the Independent Living Fund

Iain Duncan Smith decided on 6 March this year to close the Independent Living Fund

By @ShaunyGibson – Used to be @ ShaunyNews

A government decision to close a fund which would allow disabled people to live and work independently has been ruled lawful by a High Court. The decision to shut down the Independent Living Fund (ILF) by 30 June 2015 was made by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in March this year. The High Court was asked whether Duncan Smith had unlawfully failed to discharge his public sector equality duty (PSED) under the 2010 Equality Act by closing the fund.

The £320m ILF fund currently provides support to allow 18,000 disabled people to live and work in their community rather than residential care. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) previously warned that closure of the fund “will result in loss of dignity and independence for many ILF recipients”.

Judge Justice Andrews, sitting in the High Court, has ruled that the closure was lawful following an appeal, but added she knew the decision would be of “great disappointment” to some. Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said following the decision the care system in the UK is now “on its knees.” He said: “Scope is very concerned about the closure of the Independent Living Fund, because it’s likely to lead to fewer disabled people being able to live independently. “Funding will be transferred to councils, but there will be no guarantee that the money will be used to support disabled people to live independently, or that former ILF users will receive the same levels of support, given the pressures on local authority finances. “The care system is on its knees. Chronic under-funding and year-on-year rationing mean that too many people that need help to get up, get dressed, get washed and live independently face a daily struggle for support.” “With its recent care reforms, the government has set out an ambitious vision for the future of social care. But if this vision is to become a reality, social care needs sustainable funding”.

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “This government is absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and we continue to spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services.”

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Disabled Labour delegate asked to move to make way for party’s ‘bright young things’


By Shaun Gibson : @ShaunyNews

A disabled Labour Party member claims she and others were ejected from their reserved seats in order to make room for “bright young things” at the party’s conference in Manchester on Tuesday.  Bernadette Horton, a 47-year-old Labour Party member who cannot walk without crutches, fell over after conference organisers made her and two other partially disabled individuals move from their reserved seats. Ms Horton, who has been a Labour Party member for three years, said: “The way we were treated by a party that sets itself up for the most vulnerable was appalling.” The Labour delegate, who works as a career for her autistic son, alleges she and others were moved – despite stewards explaining to conference organisers the floor seats were reserved for disabled delegates – because Ed Miliband was due to pass the seats on the way out. “I noticed at the end when Ed did walk past there were all the bright young things sitting in the disabled reserved seats and shaking hands with him,” she said, “while we couldn’t get anywhere near him.” “Disabled and careers were not mentioned in the speech at all and the feeling among us all of literally not having a seat at the table was very strong,” Ms Horton said. “I am flabbergasted that the Labour party are treating its delegates as second class citizens.”

Ms Horton, who was seriously injured in a car accident four years ago and walks with crutches as a result, explained after she fell – attempting to climb the stairs to new seats rows behind their reserved ones – party organisers “panicked”. Afterwards, seats for Ms Horton and the two other disabled individuals were found elsewhere in the conference hall.

Britain blindly violating disabled people’s human rights’

Jane Campbell said the report is ‘extremely worrying and deeply sad’ for the UK

The UK government is risking “systematic violation” of international human rights law in its treatment of disabled people, charities claim. Britain is a signatory to a binding UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities , and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.

Report published by ‘JUST FAIR’

Human right the UK violate:

Austerity measures and welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax mean the rights of disabled people to independent living, work, and social security have been undermined, causing significant hardship, say campaigners. A report publishedby Just Fair , a consortium of 80 national charities including Amnesty International, Save the Children, and Oxfam, says the UK is in clear breach of its legal obligations.

Support structures for many disabled people have disappeared or are under threat as local authorities cut social care budgets, while cuts to benefits will leave many disabled people without crucial help for daily living. Jane Campbell, a cross-bench peer who is disabled said: “It is both extremely worrying and deeply sad that the UK – for so long regarded as an international leader in protecting and promoting disabled people’s rights – now risks sleepwalking towards the status of a systematic violator of these same rights.”

The government vigorously denied the claim. Disability minister Mike Penning said: “It is simply not true to say we are breaching our legal obligations to disabled people. We spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services and our reforms will make sure the billions spent give more targeted support and better reflect today’s understanding of disability.

“We are fixing a broken welfare system, which trapped tens of thousands of people on incapacity benefit for more than a decade with little done to see if their condition had improved and support them into work.” The report calls for a right to independent living to be enshrined into UK law, so that government and public bodies are obliged to ensure policies and practices support – rather than compromise – independent living.

Aoife Nolan, professor of International Human Rights Law at the University of Nottingham and a trustee of Just Fair said government policies were compromising disabled people’s human rights. “Not only do these policies cause significant hardship and anxiety, but they also amount to impermissible backward steps in relation to disabled people’s human rights, contrary to the UN human rights framework.” The report will be submitted to the United Nations, which is in the process of reviewing UK compliance with its obligations to the rights of disabled people