Inquiry aims to expose impact of cuts on independent living


An inquiry by MPs and peers will investigate how the coalition government’s regime of spending cuts is affecting disabled people’s right to independent living.

The decision by the joint committee on human rights – whose members include the disabled peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell – to hold the inquiry on independent living has been welcomed by a string of leading disabled activists.

The committee has issued a public call for evidence, with a deadline of 29 April.

The inquiry will particularly focus on the impact of the cuts announced in the comprehensive spending review and emergency budget, and how they have affected disabled people’s right to independent living, which is guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Dr Hywel Francis, chair of the committee, said he was “keen to hear evidence from disabled people about how effectively this right is upheld in practice, how policy could be improved, and the possible impact of the comprehensive spending review”.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), said the inquiry was “very welcome, very timely” and that NCIL would be encouraging its members to submit evidence.

She said: “We are increasingly seeing that disabled people are facing cutbacks, particularly to packages of care, which really calls into question independent living and being able to participate in society on the basis of equality.”

Anne Novis, a leading disabled activist, said the cuts were “undermining independent living policies, people’s rights to be safe, to have a quality of life, to be able to get up in the morning and get out”.

She said: “I do believe it is an important process and I want to encourage people to give evidence, but I am not convinced that this current government will take any notice of this inquiry’s findings.”

Among the cuts the committee will examine are the decision to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance from most people in residential care, restrictions on council social care budgets, and the decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) to new members.

Anne Pridmore, chair of Being the Boss, a user-led organisation which supports disabled people who employ personal assistants, said she believed independent living for disabled people had “gone back 20 years” because of the government’s cuts.

She is convinced ILF will close completely in 2015. When this happens, she will lose half her support funding.

She said: “I am going to do everything I possibly can in the next four years because after that I am going to be in an old people’s home.”

16 February 2011