Council leaders have warned that local authorities face extra costs from the Independent Living Fund’s decision to restrict its care payments in future to disabled people in work.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Local Government Association have urged the ILF to reverse the decision or for the government to step in and compensate councils for any additional costs they face.
The Department for Work and Pensions agency, which provides cash payments to fund care and support for severely disabled people, cited funding pressures in its decision to limit future funding to those working over 16 hours a week.
The decision, which has angered disability campaigners, prevents people claiming means-tested benefits – who would previously have been eligible – from receiving ILF cash, though existing, non-working users would retain their ILF funding.
The ILF only funds people who receive a minimum level of local authority funding – currently £340 a week.
Adass and the LGA have warned that councils will in future have to pay the full care costs of new service users who would have been eligible for ILF funding under the previous eligibility criteria.
Adass president Richard Jones said it was a “cost shunt” on to local government but also said that some disabled people may end up going without support they previously would have received.
He also said the ILF decision had “come out of the blue” with “no significant consultation”.
Andrew Cozens, group lead for adult social care at the Local Government Association, said the decision breached the “new burdens” doctrine, under which all new council responsibilities should be matched by adequate funding or an equivalent reduction in burdens elsewhere.
He called for the DWP to discuss how councils could be compensated with the Department of Health and Department of Communities and Local Government.
He also warned that in a tightening financial climate for public services, this could be the “first of many cases of one silo’s cut becoming another silo’s burden”.
Responding to the concerns, an ILF spokesperson said it had opened discussions with councils, Adass and others about potentially widening eligibility for future support “if resources allow”.
But he said the ILF’s trust deed, which governs its operations, specifies that it should prioritise existing users and new applicants who are in work when allocating its budget.