Independent Living Fund cuts access to cash as applications rise

Independent Living Fund money may only be available to disabled people who claim specific benefits or work 16-plus hours a week, under changes to current policy announced yesterday.

The threshold for the funding of personal care support, contributed by local authorities to support disabled people to live in the community, will also rise from £200 to £320 per week from April.

ILF will only accept applications from disabled people for additional financial support once this threshold has been met. 

However, even if ILF receives a valid application it may not have enough funds, out of the £343m allocated for this financial year, to provide financial support to all applicants.

The nine trustees, who sit on the board of ILF, made the decision to change policy from April last year to work within the allocated budget.

Despite an increase in funding over the last year from the Department for Work and Pensions, from £301m to £343m, the ILF argued that the changes must be implemented to meet a 27% rise in applications since summer 2006.

To meet the increase in demand, it will prioritise applications from disabled people who receive income support, jobseekers allowance, pension credit, and those who work 16-hours or more in remunerative or self-employed work.

Sue Bott, director of National Centre for Independent Living, said she was “appalled” and “alarmed” by the ILF’s decision.

“I fail to see how cash-strapped local authorities are going to be able to cope. Inevitably, eligibility criteria for support will be tightened still further locally to pay for these changes. This is likely to mean that many more people will go without any social care support at all,” said Bott.

But the ILF claimed that the average contribution from local authorities is currently £300, well above the threshold of £200, and 53% of local authorities already contributed the required £320 threshold.
A spokesman for ILF said: “The changes have been made to ensure we can continue to meet the requirements of recipients and the ILF is looking forward to working in partnership with local authorities.”

The changes have been accepted by the disability minister Anne McGuire and will only affect residents in Great Britain not Northern Ireland. 

More information

Independent Living Funds

National Centre for Independent Living

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