The Benefit System

Councils gain control of Independent Living Fund’s budget

Councils are to gain control of the Independent Living Fund’s budget in England on the government social care agency’s abolition in 2015 with no guarantees that its disabled clients will have their funding maintained after this date.
The plans were set out in a government consultation, which would see the ILF’s £330m budget transferred to councils in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who would decide on how their share was used.

The ILF provides cash payments to 19,373 disabled people to spend on a range of personal care or domestic tasks; its clients tend to have large weekly care packages and 94% are also funded by councils. A funding crisis led the ILF to close to new applications in June 2010, and, later that year, its sponsor department, the Department for Work and Pensions, announced that it would be abolished in 2015, with its funding reallocated.

The DWP has pledged to fully protect existing service users’ care packages until April 2015 but not beyond. Councils would have to reassess all ILF clients and then decide on their level of support.

“We are particularly concerned that any reallocation of ILF funding to local authorities could lead to disabled people not receiving the same level of support,”

Neil Coyle, director of policy at Disability Rights UK.

Since the closure of the fund to new applicants in 2010, people who would have received funding under its eligibility criteria have not been receiving equivalent payments from their local authority, said Coyle.

“This denies independent living, choice and control to disabled people,” he said.

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