I’ve long supported the aims of Disabled People Against the Cuts [DPAC] and I am proud that now I been accepted as a Full Member.
Last week, I joined their Day of Action in London when they were protesting against Maximus taking over the contract for the notorious Work Capability Assessment.
And I’ve campaigned with them the save the Independent Living Fund.
I contacted key people within the Labour Party to ensure that in the short term, the 17,000 in the ILF user group continue to be supported.
I believe this means that when funding is transferred to top-tier local authorities at the end of June 2015, they are ring-fenced to continue to support the current user group.
I hope and believe that an incoming Labour Government would deliver guidance on this matter as a matter of urgency asap after 7 May.
In the medium term, there needs to be protection for existing ILF users and care packages need to be monitored to ensure the needs of current ILF users are continued to be met by local authorities.
But I have a long-term goal – that Independent Living is mainstreamed within the plans for broader integration of health and social care.
Independent Living needs to be on the agenda across all Government departments
It is self-evident that in recent years, other areas of support for Independent Living have been under consistent attack by the coalition including
– employment (closing Remploy, undermining Access to Work and the Work Programme’s poor success rate at securing disabled people work at just 7%);
– education (planning to abolish Disabled Student Allowances, hiking fees, increasing the number of unqualified education staff when TAs often support disabled pupils);
– welfare (changes to cut DLA budget by 20% and 440,000 hit with bedroom tax);
– health (esp mental health service cuts); and
– local govt (leaving some councils cutting care services)
As a grassroots Labour Party activist, I am optimistic that as we approach the General Election more will be heard on many, if not all, these points.