Inclusion Scotland

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Friday, 12 October 2012

Disabled Scots fear that they will be confined to their houses or even forced to give up their homes if the UK Government goes ahead with plans to abolish vital funding by 2015.

In its response to the consultation on the Future of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which closed this week, Scotland’s leading disability organisation Capability Scotland has documented the concerns of a number of disabled people who are worried about what the demise of the fund will mean for them.

ILF, which is currently paid by the UK Government, supports disabled people with a high level of need to live independently.

It was closed to new applicants in 2010 and the UK is now planning to wind it down completely by 2015.  However, not enough detail has been given about what will replace it.

Gavin, who has cerebral palsy, started receiving ILF payments in 2008. The funding combined with support from his local authority allowed him to move out of the parental home and into his own place.

Explaining what ILF means to him Gavin said: “ILF enables me to live, to work, to socialise, to swim, to clean myself and my home, to do all the things that matter to me.  It allows me to live.”

It is expected that the local authorities will be left to fill the void created by the closure of the ILF. However, Capability Scotland does not believe this is a sustainable option.

Capability Scotland director of external affairs Richard Hamer, commented: “Capability Scotland strongly opposes the closure of the ILF in 2015. Many of the people who use Capability Scotland’s services rely on the fund to have real choice and control over their own needs and to participate in and contribute to society.

“Scottish local authorities are already struggling to fund existing care and support services and in many cases packages are being reduced while needs continue to rise.  It’s unrealistic to expect them to pick up the pieces when the fund closes.  And with no clarity on whether future funding will be ring fenced there is a danger that money which should facilitate independent living will be reprioritised elsewhere.”

The charity’s concerns are being echoed by user-led organisations who have said disabled service users are deeply afraid of being seen as worthless and becoming a burden to society.

“It makes me feel like I’m sub-human” said a service use from Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCIL) at a recent event on the issue of ILF.

LCIL director Florence Garabedian, said: “If the closure of the ILF goes ahead for current members, as it did in 2010 for new social care/support recipients, it will bring about a disastrous situation, whereby people living  in one of the richest countries in the world, in the 21st Century, are denied their human rights, genuine citizenship and equal opportunity to a decent life on grounds of economic arguments.

“This message is of very grave concern to our organisation and such a decision should be considered and scrutinised against the apparent commitment of the UK Government to Independent Living and equal opportunities for disabled people and people with long term conditions.”

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