The Scottish National Party (SNP) has called for controversial planned changes to the Independent Living Fund (ILF) to be suspended until after the election, because of their impact on disabled people in Scotland.
The party said it was “gravely concerned” about the proposed changes to eligibility for ILF, which it said would have a “disproportionate impact” on Scotland.
In March, the ILF announced that disabled people with high support needs who wanted to apply for ILF financial assistance would now have to be working at least 16 hours a week.
The government-funded ILF, which supports more than 21,000 disabled people with high support needs, including more than 3,500 in Scotland, blamed the decision on the rising number of new applicants and the increasing cost of care packages.
The new rules – introduced without any consultation – will take effect from 1 May.
An SNP spokesman said: “Qualifying conditions have always ensured that ILF payments are targeted at those adults with the severest disabilities and those in the greatest need.
“It is unacceptable that UK government cuts are already falling on some of the most vulnerable members in society.”
And he said there had been “not a word of consultation with the Scottish government” before the changes were announced, even though “nearly a fifth of the ILF budget currently comes to disabled people in Scotland”.
He added: “These changes must be suspended, so that the issue can be revisited after the UK election.”
But the SNP also made it clear that it would not extend free personal care to working age disabled adults.
The spokesman said that providing free personal care to everyone over 65 who has been assessed as needing it by their local council was “one of the Scottish parliament’s proudest achievements”.
But he said there would be no commitment to extending it to younger disabled people.
He said that “younger people with disabilities may not be charged for personal care due to their lack of income” and pointed to the “availability of disability benefits which are not available to those over 65 years”.
He said working age disabled people would receive an income “appropriate to their needs” through the benefit system and disability living allowance.
26 April 2010