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Disability law: Challenge to Independent Living Fund closure to be heard in court

The High Court will hear a legal challenge to the Government's plan to scrap the Independent Living Fund for people with severe disabilities.

The challenge is being brought by six claimants, who are asking for a judicial review of the legality of the decision, that will see centralised funds directed out to local authorities, reports the BBC.

The Government announced plans to scrap the Independent Living Fund back in December 2010. The ILF offers 21,000 people living with severe disabilities a 'top up' of up to £300 per week to allow them to pay for additional care that lets them stay in their own home.

The ILF was set up as a 'national resource dedicated to the financial support of disabled people'; however, following a budget review it was closed to any new applicants in June 2010 and is set to close completely in 2015.

At present the majority of funds for those with severe disabilities are administered by local authorities, with the ILF providing a top up. The Government plans to divert the same funds back into the local authorities, allowing them to distribute the money as they think fit.

However, the move has angered recipients of the ILF, who fear that as the money is not 'ring fenced' for their care, councils could decide to divert the additional money elsewhere, leaving them out on a limb.

"It's like the sword of Damocles hanging over my shoulder because it's always on your mind," one of the legal challengers, Anne Pridmore, told Channel 4 news.

"If the local authority won't take over the funding to pay for the bit the ILF have been paying, I see the only option is being put into an old people's home," she continued.

The legal challenge is based on two grounds; firstly, that in scrapping the ILF the Government is breaching its commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and, secondly, that the process used to make the decision to scrap the ILF was unlawful.

Source:

Disabled people in legal bid to save living fund (BBC News)