Independent Living Fund
Work and Pensions
Maria Miller (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Disabled People), Work and Pensions; Basingstoke, Conservative)
In December 2010, the Government announced that the independent living fund (ILF) would not continue to run as a discretionary trust in parallel to the mainstream social care system. The system was poorly structured, leading to unnecessary complexity, duplication of some functions and an unjustifiable geographical variation in take-up. This was followed by the temporary closure of the fund to new users in 2010 when it became clear that insufficient funding had been made available to the fund by the previous Government.
The Government have committed to protect the programme budget for existing ILF users until the end of this Parliament in 2015 and committed to carry out a formal consultation on how support could be made available in the future.
In the care and support White Paper “Caring for our future: reforming care and support”, published this week, the Government have set out their plans for reforming care and support in England. This includes building on the progress that has been made in giving disabled people greater choice and control through the new legal right to a personal budget. It is in this context that we have considered how the future needs of ILF users can be met.
In a consultation document to be published today, the Government are proposing that funding is devolved to local government in England and to the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales from April 2015. This will ensure that the needs of all ILF users are met within a single cohesive statutory system in line with local priorities and local authorities’ broader independent living strategies. The Government recognise the role that the ILF has played since it was created for a transitional five year period in 1988, but believe that transformed policy context means that to maintain a parallel funding stream for the provision of care and support for disabled people would perpetuate inequity in the system.
The consultation will last for 12 weeks and be on a UK-wide basis given the implications of the closure of the fund for all parts of the United Kingdom. It will be important that we get the views of as wide a range of interested individuals and organisations as possible, in particular ILF users and their carers, their families, local authorities and the many organisations that support disabled people in living independently.