Government report confirms fears over impact of Independent Living Fund closure

Former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in England experienced a loss of support, a greater reliance on unpaid care and an “adverse” impact on their physical and mental health after its closure, according to a government report.

The research, published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), confirms many of the warnings and concerns raised by disabled activists who campaigned against the decision to close the fund, before it shut in June 2015

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-report-confirms-fears-over-impact-of-ilf-closure/

Care crisis: Council’s failings mean disabled man has to be dragged upstairs to his flat

This is exactly what we predicted would happen when the Government decided to close the Independent Living Fund and devolve responsibility for the most severely disabled to local councils.

John Pring at Disability News Service writes:

A disabled man has to be dragged up the stairs to his second-floor flat by his personal assistant because of his local council’s failure to rehouse him in safe, accessible accommodation.

Robert Carver – who is paraplegic – has also been told by his GP, nurse, occupational therapist and psychologist that he needs 24-hour-a-day care, but his council has given him just 28 hours a week.

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/care-crisis-councils-failings-mean-disabled-man-has-to-be-dragged-upstairs-to-his-flat/

Council wants to watch abuse survivor shower and toilet to check post-Independent Living Fund needs

A disabled woman has told how her local council is threatening to spend several days watching her every move as she eats, showers and uses the toilet, in order to check if planned cuts to her care package will meet her needs.

The woman, Jane*, a survivor of serious sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and a former Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipient, spoke about the council’s “violation” at a parliamentary campaign meeting this week

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/council-wants-to-watch-abuse-survivor-shower-and-toilet-to-check-post-ilf-needs/

The Abuse Disabled People Face from Social Services & Funding Cuts Since ILF Closure

The government has closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and devolved the money to local authorities.

The ILF was a fund designed to help the care needs of the most profoundly disabled citizens of the UK. It was administered at national level through parliament, and was paid out to 18,000 people.

The money devolved to local authorities has not been ring fenced to ensure it is used to support the severely disabled people who were completely reliant on the ILF for their daily needs and independence. Council income has been slashed by the government. Many cash strapped councils have chosen to cut the aid packages for ex-ILF recipients, using the money for urgent purposes elsewhere. This is resulting in huge suffering by those who had previously been in receipt of 24 hour care.

Here’s an account by one of them, published on the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website.

“My beloved friends, most of you know that I have been battling my local council NOT to cut the essential care support I need to maintain my independence & social inclusion. Their drastic cuts will leave me virtually housebound: with just enough care to get me up in the morning & be put to bed at night & have a quick meal at midday and one short toilet break a day, as well as just enough care to go out once a week and 25 minutes a day for help with dish washing, household cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc., and absolutely none for help with showering & other personal care or for food prep & cooking, or anything else. They suggest I purchase ready made, microwavable meals via the internet instead – something I simply cannot afford and even if I could, due to my complex disabilities it would not meet my nutritional needs and would result in my condition deteriorating rapidly, as being made housebound would too”

read more here: http://dpac.uk.net/2016/09/the-abuse-disabled-people-face-from-social-services-and-cuts-to-funding-since-closure-of-ilf/#st_refDomain=www.facebook.com&st_refQuery=/

Cameron’s stealth cut to disability benefits is obscene – says the Telegraph

Axing the Independent Living Fund without a plausible alternative will hurt vulnerable people while saving very little money

“The test of a good society,” David Cameron said before the 2010 general election, was whether “you look after the frail, the vulnerable, the poorest”.

That test, he admitted, “is even more difficult in difficult times, when difficult decisions have to be taken.”

We are certainly living in difficult times, with plenty of difficult decisions to be made about Government spending. But while many of the welfare reforms have been popular with voters on all sides of the political divide, there is now a big question whether the latest decision passes the Prime Minister’s own personal “test of a good society”.

Today sees the end of the Independent Living Fund, a little-known benefit that affects only 18,000 people across the nation and costs taxpayers £320m a year.

The fund, started 30 years ago, makes payments of, typically, £450 to £500 a week to people with severe disabilities to enable them to live more independent lives. It funds the cost of carers and personal assistants to provide daily help with their everyday needs, even allowing some recipients to go out to work.

Yet, in these “difficult times”, the ILF will cease to exist at midnight tonight. Disability campaigners, who have fought hard against its end, say this will be catastrophic for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Their worries have been brushed aside by the Government as “scaremongering”. This is, Ministers insist, a mere administrative change that won’t leave anyone out of pocket. From tomorrow all the funds will simply be transferred to local councils for them to manage.

So why is this such a test of Mr Cameron’s good society? The answer is, as always, in the small print.

Yes, the fund’s cash is being transferred to local councils from tonight but, with just hours to go, those councils have not yet been told exactly how much money they will each get.

In addition to that, the money – which will come from the Department for Communities and Local Government rather than the Department for Work and Pensions – will not be legally ringfenced for the severely disabled. Indeed, only one third of councils have so far committed to spending the money as intended rather than simply adding the cash to their general budget.

And, given that the social care for the elderly provided by many cash-strapped councils is already scandalously poor, with carers able to spend only minutes with frail and vulnerable pensioners, we can hardly hold out much hope that the care given to the severely disabled will meet anything but their most basic needs.

Finally, to add insult to injury, the central Government funding is guaranteed for only another nine months. After that, who knows? The disabled recipients and their carers will have to wait for the next spending review to find out what their future holds.

read the rest of this story here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/politics-blog/11707492/Camerons-stealth-cut-to-disability-benefits-is-obscene.html

David Cameron, a champion of disabled people? Try telling Paula Peters

A prime minister who talks about caring for his disabled son is about to unleash a new wave of benefit cuts on Britain’s most vulnerable people. People like Paula

George Osborne won’t have a clue who Paula Peters is, but he has shaped the past five years of her life. And when the chancellor delivers his emergency budget in parliament early next month, he should look up to the public gallery. He may well see Paula staring back at him.

As a disabled woman, she’s among those most hurt most by Osborne’s cuts. Now she wishes to hear for herself what the cabinet’s going to do to her next.

 

I want you to hear Paula’s story precisely because it is not the one David Cameron would have you believe. As the prime minister tells it, he’s a champion of the rights of disabled people. He has talked about how the strain of caring for his own severely disabled son, Ivan, almost led to his family “falling apart” I have no wish to doubt Cameron’s sincerity – but this month he will scrap the independent living fund, a small pot of cash that allows very disabled people to live in their own homes and communities. Without it, people with similar conditions to Ivan will become prisoners in their own homes, or shut away in a residential care facility.

During the election campaign, the Conservative leader promised that “the most disabled should always be protected”. Yet the Centre for Welfare Reform calculates that his austerity programme has so far hit Britons with disabilities nine times harder than the average. Those with severe disabilities were whacked 19 times harder. And now those same people are about to be devastated all over again.

I met Paula at the end of last week, a couple of days after Cameron refused to rule out further cuts to disability benefits. The 43-year-old has a range of health problems, physical and mental – among them rheumatoid arthritis, which accounted for her swollen hands and the chipped walking cane. Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder makes her prey to vertiginous mood swings. “Up, down, up, down: you want to get off the rollercoaster but you can’t. Your mind won’t quieten down.”

In 2010 Cameron and Osborne trained their sights on people like Paula, thanks to a chain of three choices. First, they chose to try to wipe out the deficit, rather than spur growth. Second, they chose to do this not by raising taxes, but almost solely by spending cuts. Finally, ministers decided they had to slash welfare, but couldn’t take money off pensioners – all that inevitably meant hacking back support for children, or people with disabilities.

What that’s brought for Paula is a profound anxiety about how much money she has to live on. In an attempt to bring down the bill for disability benefits, Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary in charge of welfare, commissioned the private firm Atos to test every single claimant of employment and support allowance, the successor to incapacity benefit. Paula has been through two such tests in two years, each time seized with worry about what happens if she “fails”.

“It gets to the point where you’re frightened of the thud of the postman coming up your path,” she says. “You’re fearful of a brown envelope, in case it’s from the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions]. You’re fearful of a white envelope in case it’s from Atos.” The worry got so much that once she was admitted to the local psychiatric unit, where staff were warned not even to mention benefits in front of her.

Some have been less resilient. A friend of Paula, also suffering with bipolar, received a letter saying that she’d been paid too much in benefits. This was early in the austerity regime, when the lexicon of “skivers and strivers” was still new and shocking. The friend told others that she wasn’t able to cope with the stress. A few days later, she threw herself under a train, leaving behind three small children. “She’s not the only friend I’ve lost; this government’s got blood on its hands.”

So far Paula has kept her benefits. But she observes that they’ve barely risen in five years, while the price of food and energy has shot up. Sometimes she goes without eating. The Wednesday before we met passed without a single meal.

It’s not just benefit cuts that have hurt disabled people – it’s the drying up of public services and funds for care packages, or the difficulties in getting home adaptations and equipment. And, says Paula, it’s the suspicion from politicians and the public.

Official statistics show hate crimes against people with disabilities have been rising year on year since 2011. Some of this must be the responsibility of the government, and what Paula calls its “horrible rhetoric”. She was on the bus a couple of years ago, coming back from hospital when a man spotted her mobility aid and jeered: “I bet you’re one of those spongers.” Not a single passenger spoke up. “I couldn’t leave the house for a week after that.”

Of each £100 spent on benefits, only 70p is fraudulently claimed. Yet Tory MPs still talk of people claiming disability benefits as a lifestyle choice. Some lifestyle. “You try living with chronic pain and tiredness, with throwing up in the toilet, or bowel incontinence when it gets bad, with feeling like shit every day,” says Paula. And the same Tories who talk about getting disabled people working cut funding for the Access to Work programme that supports them at work.

read the rest of this article in the Guardian here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/08/cameron-disabled-champion-paula-peters-cuts-most-vulnerable?CMP=share_btn_fb