A leading disabled activist has called for more disabled people to join the campaign to oppose the government’s “shocking and reckless” plans for the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Kevin Caulfield, who chairs Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC), says the government’s plans for ILF are an attack on the right to independent living of disabled people with the highest support needs.
And he says the plans have caused “fear and concern” among ILF claimants.
Last month, Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, announced that ILF – the government-funded trust which helps 21,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently – would be closed permanently to new members.
The government also looks set to scrap ILF completely after the next election, after Miller said that running it as an “independent discretionary trust delivering social care” was “financially unsustainable”.
HAFCAC has written to two local MPs, calling on them to oppose the government’s plans and question the reforms in parliament.
Caulfield wants disabled people across the country to take similar action and raise the profile of the fight to save ILF.
HAFCAC fears that disabled people who rely on ILF support will be forced into institutions and have to move away from their home local authorities.
In the letter, Caulfield says: “We fail to see, as more pressure is placed on non-ring fenced local authority social care budgets, how disabled people who are at high risk of isolation and exclusion from the rest of society will have the shortfall in financial resources met.”
Caulfield said the ILF claimants he had spoken to were “fairly resigned” to the government scrapping the fund after 2015.
He is now hoping to help persuade the Labour party to pledge to re-instate ILF if it regains power.
He said the government had promised to support those disabled people with the highest support needs, but its decision, soon after being elected, to “start attacking a fund that was specifically set up to meet the needs of that particular group of disabled people” was “really shocking and reckless”.
The letter has been sent to Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, and Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham.
Caulfield has asked both MPs to sign Labour MP Katy Clark’s early day motion 1231, which calls on the government to reconsider its ILF decision.
The letter – which can be adapted and used by other disabled campaigners – is due to be added to HAFCAC’s website this week, at www.hafcac.org.uk
13 January 2011