Council cuts care packages to close ‘unequal’ funding gap

Disability campaigners warn of ‘devastating impact’ of cuts as Brent council ends commitment to maintain Independent Living Fund support

Photo: Voisin/Phanie/REX/Shutterstock

A third of service users in Brent who used to receive support through the Independent Living Fund are set to have their care packages cut, under plans approved by the council’s cabinet.

The council maintained existing care packages for the 63 ILF recipients in the borough after the government closed the fund in June 2015. But the authority says this has created an “inequitable” two-tier system where former ILF recipients receive higher levels of care than other service users with similar needs.

All 63 former ILF users will be reassessed and 21 are “likely” to see their care funding reduced, according to a council report on the plans. The changes will take effect in April.

The council’s report acknowledged the authority is likely to face an “understandable degree of opposition” to funding reductions but said it was confident people’s wellbeing could be maintained. Disability campaigners warned similar cuts implemented by other local authorities following the ILF closure had a “devastating impact” on some people’s lives.

‘Right to review’

When the government closed the ILF it transferred responsibility for meeting ILF care and support needs to councils. Ministers said they would give local authorities funding to cover ILF needs until 2020 but did not require councils to ring-fence the money.

Brent received approximately £1m in ILF funding and decided to maintain existing care packages but withheld the right to review this in the future. The local authority has said it is moving to reduce care packages now because the ILF funding from central government will decrease year-on-year until March 2020, when it will end.

Research published by Disability charity Inclusion London last year found more than half of local authorities in the capital had cut service users’ care packages since the ILF’s closure. Seven councils committed to maintaining existing levels of support until 2020.

Ellen Clifford, the charity’s campaigns officer, said she was “extremely disappointed” Brent was opting to reduce care packages.

She said: “Cuts to support can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and where these have happened in other areas following the ILF closure, it has resulted in disabled people trapped indoors, left for hours with no access to food or drink and forced to wear incontinence pads in place of support to use the toilet.

“At the end of last year, a UN inquiry found the UK guilty of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s right and the closure of the ILF was one of the issues they considered in making that finding. Other councils have made commitments to find the funding to protect disabled people in their areas. It is a shame that Brent council don’t place the same value on the lives of their disabled residents.”

‘Equal treatment’

Krupesh Hirani, Brent’s cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “The drop in funding on top of further cuts to our funding available for social care prompted the council to explore how we could support people’s needs going forward. Our way forward will mean all care recipients in Brent will be assessed and treated equally within the council’s means.

“Care needs will still be met, however the way in which they are met may change and as such, we let ILF recipients know back in 2015 that these changes were a possibility on the horizon.

“We are committed to supporting ILF recipients through this transition and have put in place additional funding to help with the change-over, as well as carrying out reviews of care needs and in providing ongoing advice and guidance.”

8 Responses to Council cuts care packages to close ‘unequal’ funding gap

  1. colsey February 8, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    I work with the most vulnerable adults (deemed to lack capacity) and there has never been one in 25 years out of the group who have never worked due to their probnlems who has not left a considerable sum of money (all accumulated from DWP benefits) which then passes to next of kin or under a Will. This money is of course OUR money from our taxes/NIC. I have over 30 with sums ranging from £50k to £95K which is built up benefits they can never use and should never have had. The whole system of care costs/contribtions and benefits is a mess and needs to be fully reviewed by someone who fully understands it from ALL angles. Why should someone in residential care on a S.117 or being funded by the NHS continue to receive full benefits when their roof, food and care are being funded by the taxpayer. By all means give them a decent amount of personal spending for personal needs but nowhere near what they are getting. It really is a case of 2 sides of the coin where those that need do not get and those that get do not need. With regard to ILF a review in our area found several people who had never contributed and ILF did not deal with and also several who had over £10k saved from the ILF funds which they had not used, yet these very people are the same ones complaining. Two sides to every coin

    • Socialworker February 9, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

      I fully agree with reference to s.117 and CHC funding.

  2. Monica wakefield February 8, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

    I feel that your comments give a very biased view of what life is like for most disabled people. I think the people that you have been dealing with are somewhat the exception amongst the disabled society. My son has recently had the rate of pay that he can pay his care workers cut from. £8.40 to £7.20 by out local council. He is a university graduate with a physical disability and is struggling to meet the financial costs of his disability. He has been unable to find work within the his chosen field due to blatant disability discrimination. The cost of just trying to live a normal life is very hard as he constantly has to pay for his care workers to travel with him everytime he uses transport. He has to pay for extra concert and theatre tickets when he goes out and I can assure you that his benefits go no way to supporting him to do this. Life is extremely difficult for someone who has 24/7 care needs and is on,y being supported for 100 per week. I am expected to pick up the rest of his care package for nothing even though I am 65 years old. Do not seek to discredit the struggles that disabled people have with your views on the minority.

  3. Charles Rainey February 9, 2017 at 10:32 am #

    Dear Colsey,

    I also work with disabled adults and, based on your lack of understanding of how the benefits system works, I seriously doubt that you do. ILF funding is reviewed on a two year basis and any bank account balance in excess of one week’s carer salary must be returned. There are similar limits for Direct Payments. I cannot see how you can build up a capital balance of £50-£95K without someone demanding its return. In addition, ILF is for INDEPENDENT LIVING, as its name suggests, and is not available to those in residential care. As someone who claims to work with vulnerable adults you know surprising little about the benefits system. It is by no means generous (anyone working 35hrs per week for £62.10 Carer’s Allowance can testify to that !). I don’t know what you get from this disabled trolling, but please have a heart and find less vulnerable victims in future.

  4. Charley February 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    I agree with colsey I am a social worker and work with loads of service users who get quite a lot in disability benefits -many things lead to others. When they are also entitled to sec 117 services they do save up substantial amounts abd families inherit a lot of money .
    Dla/pip etc was meant for additional needs due to a disability. Then why ILS and direct payments n personal budgets on top? A lot of people I work with take in benefits nearly what I earn a month .im sorry but it is my experience

    • Charles Rainey February 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

      Dear Charley,

      I assume by ILS you mean ILF ? If you are based in England, I can understand the confusion as it no longer exists there. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we were sensible enough to retain it as it provided good value for money. The benefits system is designed to cater to the needs of the ‘average’ user with disabilities. It is usually a mix of direct support and payments to be used at the discretion of the user. If you are not average, if you are severely disabled, then additional support is delivered via mechanisms such as the ILF. I cannot comment on people involuntarily sectioned under S.117 as I know none of them, except to say 2 things : 1) They must be a vanishingly small minority of disabled users rather than the majority as suggested by Colsey and 2) I don’t see why being sectioned is conflated with never having worked. Most of the people I have ever heard of being sectioned reached crisis point due to overwork !

      If your point is that the disability benefits system is overcomplicated, I would agree. But, in my experience, that tends to put users off claiming in the first place rather than allowing them to build up nest eggs. Benefits are for living expenses and any unused balances just get clawed back.

  5. SIMONE ASPIS February 10, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    I wish I knew this a few days ago as I could have brought it up in a Brent Resident’s meeting – Brent COuncil pride themselves on saving on social care – I asked what the consequnences were i.e. numbers of DP end up in theMH system, ended up in Residential Special School provisiom etc

  6. Daniel February 14, 2017 at 7:02 am #

    When council originally assessed the ILF recipients they felt that they needed the level of support they provided. If I were a service user, I would be asking what has been the change in my need that has resulted in a reduction in care… I think that this would also be the view of the ombudsman. The ILF was just a funding source to help to meet the need assessed by the council. If the council were overly gernerous in the first place to take advantage of that funding source, it shouldn’t now become to the detriment of the service users.