Guide

Independent Living Fund

Outline

The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to provide extra funding for severely disabled people who need intensive, high-cost care to live independently in their homes. 

Some ILF recipients need 24-hour support. With that round-the-clock care from personal assistants, many recipients are able to work, study and socialise, and continue to live independent lives. ILF money is often used to top up the funding for care services that is provided by councils. The ILF is an acknowledgement that cash-strapped councils can’t afford to pay for the high-cost care packages that ILF recipients require. 

Problems

In 2010, the government closed the fund to new applicants. Then, in 2012, the government announced that the ILF would be closed to existing users and that both the funding and the users would be transferred to the local authority care system. This ILF money would not be ringfenced and there was no guarantee that it would be devolved to councils for more than a couple of years. 

This caused great concern among recipients, who knew that councils could not afford to pay for their care. They would be left with two choices: to move into care homes (assuming there were available places), or to stay in their own homes and try to get by with dangerously low levels of care provided by their cashstrapped councils. 

In 2013, ILF claimants challenged the closure of the fund through the courts. The high court upheld the government's decision to close it in the first instance but then, at the end of 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision on the basis that the Minister for Disabled People had breached equality duties when deciding to close the ILF. 

Amazingly, the government is trying to close the fund again. In March 2014, Minister of State for Disabled People, Mike Penning, announced a new closure date for the fund – the end of June 2015. Disabled people have responded with another legal challenge.

Disabled protestors have also responded with direct action, including a widely-publicised occupation of the Westminster Abbey grounds on 28 June, and a popular postcard campaign. You can read all the latest updates from the Save ILF campaign.

Campaigners say this fight is central to the battle for disability rights. With adequate funding for care services and support, everyone who is or becomes disabled can continue to live an independent life. Without adequate funding, that independence is threatened. People’s lives are at risk. 

Links

Disabled people vow to appeal against independent living fund ruling
Guardian article about the appeal to overturn the ruling that upheld government's decision to scrap disability scheme.

Future of the Independent Living Fund
DWP announcement in March 2014 of its second attempt to close the ILF.

2nd court case to challenge ILF closure launched
Disabled People Against Cuts press release explaining legal challenge to the DWP’s repeat decision to close the ILF.

Save the Independent Living Fund
Disabled people and their allies are taking action over the closure of the Independent Living Fund – this site has lots of information and regular updates on the campaign.

Save the Independent Living Fund Postcard Campaign
Facebook page with regular updates and news from across the country.

Closing the Independent Living Fund shows how low the government will go
Guardian Comment Is Free piece based on video interviews of ILF recipients Sophie Partridge, Kevin Caulfield, Gabriel Pepper and Penny Pepper on the government's plan to close the ILF.

Mary Laver's Fight for Independence: Cameron's Cruellest Cut?
False Economy/Daily Mirror film in which a recipient talks about the ILF and shows what it is like to need intense care services to live her daily life.

No god here: just heavy police at the Westminster Abbey #SaveILF protest
June 2014: Disabled people occupy Westminster Abbey grounds to protest the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

The Secret Cuts: Part Two, The Independent Living Fund
New Statesman article: ILF recipients Penny Pepper and Sophie Partridge on the High Court’s upholding of the government's planned ILF closure in 2013.

Shame Of The Church of England: Dean of Westminster Allows Hundreds of Police To Attempt Stamp Out Of Disabled People’s Peaceful Protest
Detailed report on the occupation of the grounds of Westminster Abbey by disabled campaigners.