Devon County Council responses to closure of Independent Living Fund

Scene and Heard on closure of ILF

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was originally set up in 1988 as a national resource dedicated to the financial support of disabled people, enabling them to choose to continue living in the community rather than move into residential care. During its existence, the ILF has undergone a number of changes, but essentially it operates as a discretionary source of funding for people with disabilities. [For more detail, DOWNLOAD Commons Library Standard Note SN/SP/5633 Independent Living Fund]

In December 2010, the Minister for Disabled People announced that the ILF is permanently closed to new applications and the Fund announced its priority remains to deliver an excellent service to our users.

In 2012, Maria Miller MP – as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Disabled People – launched a public consultation document with a forward that said:
The Government believes that the care and support needs of existing ILF users can and should met within one cohesive social care system, in a way that is consistent with our commitment to localism, with funding and services integrated around individuals’ need through personal budgets. Our preferred approach is that from 2015 ILF funding is devolved to local government in England and to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

By December 2012, the Government published their response to Consultation on the future of the Independent Living Fund. At the same time, all the consultation responses were published, along with a Impact Assessment and an Equality Impact Assessment.

In March 2014 the Minister for Disabled People announced that the ILF will be closing on 30 June 2015 and from 1 July 2015, the funding and responsibility of ILF care and support needs ouldl transfer to local authorities in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [DWP Press Release: Future of the Independent Living Fund 06 March 2014].

At that time, the ILF issue an Information sheet on the planned closure

This decision was challenged legally and became the basis of many protests and demonstrations.

On 08 December 2014, the High Court has announced its decision on the judicial review case between 2 Independent Living Fund [ILF] users and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

The court dismissed the claimants’ application for judicial review and upheld the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund on 30 June 2015. [Disabled men lose high court bid to stop Independent Living Fund closure Guardian 08 December 2014].

In March 2014 Devon County Council updated their Impact Assessment on Cessation of the national Independent Living Fund and transfer of funding to Devon County Council, originally published in January 2014.

The Impact Assessment points out that in Devon there are 177 people received ILF funding, 75% of whom have a learning disability as their primary need and 25% of whom have a physical or sensory disability as their primary need (some of these people will have a combination of both learning and physical or sensory disabilities but one type of disability has to be identified as their primary need).

Of the 177 ILF recipients, 156 are already known to Devon County Council, and 21 are not known to the local authority.

Then in November 2014, DCC published a position statement on the ILF closure.

At the Devon County Council meeting held on 19 February 2015, Cllr Rob Hannaford [LAB, Exwick/St Thomas] asked a question of Cabinet member, Stuart Hughes [CON, Sidford/Sidmouth], on the the future of the Independent Living Fund within Devon.

On 15 April 2015 campaigning group Disabled People Against the Cuts sent out Freedom of Information requests 151 English Local Authorities – responses were received from 147 councils and a summary was published on 25 June 2015.
Here’s what Devon County Council had to say in their FoI response:
DPAC Q1: Will you be ring fencing the ILF money passed to you to:
A) Individual ILF users
B) Adult Social Care
C) No ring-fence at all
DCC: it is up to the government to ring fence the funding in relation to ILF if it so chooses. If it does not do so, we will not set a ring fence; however we are budgeting to spend our estimate of the funding entirely to replace the Independent Living Fund. 
DPAC Q2: Have you received the details of how much money you are being allocated and if so how much is that?
DCC: The Department for Communities and Local Government is yet to state the allocation that local authorities will receive. 
DPAC Q3: When will you be starting reassessments of ILF users and when do you anticipate completing those assessments?

DCC: All recipients of ILF in Devon have recently received a letter from DCC communicating that they will be offered an assessment of their needs.  The assessment process will start after the Easter period. 

DPAC Q4: What arrangements are you putting in place for those ILF users  you have not reassessed by 30th June to continue funding their current ILF care packages until an assessment has been carried out?
DCC: We will ensure that all recipients of ILF are reassessed by 30th June. 

DPAC Q5: Do you have contingency plans in case a change in Government at the forthcoming election alters the ILF funding situation?
DCC: No, we are planning to implement current guidance unless directed otherwise whether that be by the existing or a future government. 

Looking closely at the response to Q1, Devon County Council seem to be saying that because the Government isn’t setting a ring-fence, we won’t be setting one either. But in committing budget to spend our estimate of the funding entirely to replace the Independent Living Fund is an effective ring-fence. Curious!

Scene and Heard on closure of ILF
Scene and Heard on closure of ILF

Further reading:
31/03/13 | #SaveTheILF 

06/03/14 | #DWP to close #ILF

18/06/14 | Adjournment Debate – Future support for people currently in receipt of the #ILF

04/07/14 | #SaveILF #ILJuly4

22/10/14 | #saveILF vigil