The Independent Living Fund looks set to be abolished after 2015 after ministers declared the social care agency's current position was "financially unsustainable".
The ILF will close permanently to new members and the government will consult on supporting its existing 21,000 users – all of whom are severely disabled – into a "social care system based on personalised budgets", minister for disabled people Maria Miller said today.
However, Miller said that the ILF would stay in place to fund existing users until the end of this parliament in 2015.
Its payments would most likely be transferred to councils to administer as part of personal budgets, though Miller's statement does not specify whether funding would be protected at existing levels after 2015.
The ILF is a trust, operating under the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions, that provides cash payments to fund personal care and support for severely disabled people to supplement the support they receive from local authorities.
Following a funding crisis earlier this year, the ILF closed its doors to new members on a temporary basis, prompting the coalition to review the future of the organisation.
"Having reviewed the role of the Independent Living Fund, and consulted informally with disability organisations, local government representatives and colleagues in the Department of Health, working with the fund's trustees, we have concluded that the model of the ILF as an independent discretionary trust delivering social care is financially unsustainable," said Miller.
She said it was the government's priority to safeguard the position of existing ILF users and that it would consult next year on how their needs would be met in future, following the report of the government's Commission on the Funding of Care and Support.
Miller added that councils would be expected to provide for people who would otherwise have received ILF funding before it closed its doors to new members.
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What future for the Independent Living Fund?