Three years after closure of the Independent Living Fund, new figures show continuing postcode lottery in treatment of former recipients
New figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests show that over 250 Disabled Londoners with high support needs have lost support since the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2015 and a post code lottery operating across London boroughs. The research carried out by Inclusion London has also found a number of Councils […]
New figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests show that over 250 Disabled Londoners with high support needs have lost support since the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2015 and a post code lottery operating across London boroughs. The research carried out by Inclusion London has also found a number of Councils claiming not to hold data on former ILF recipients despite a total of over £81 million awarded from central government to London Councils specifically for the purpose of meeting their needs.
Download the data tables here:
The ILF, which was set up to provide essential supporting enabling Disabled people with high support needs to live in the community when the alternative was residential care, was shut despite vehement opposition from Disabled campaigners on 30 June 2015. A report evaluating the impact of the closure one year on published by Inclusion London in 2016 (1) found dramatic differences in how different London boroughs were responding to the situation and had spent the closure transitional funds handed down from central government.
These latest figures show similar patterns in how London Councils are continuing to respond to their responsibilities in meeting the support needs of former ILF recipients. In May 2016 central government announced a further four years of funding for local authorities and devolved administrations intended “to enable local authorities to continue to support service users previously in receipt of the ILF” called the “Former ILF Recipient Grant” (2). However, these monies are not ring-fenced and it is down to the discretion of each council as to whether they even keep them within adult social care. This has resulted in a wide disparity of approach between councils that have committed to protecting the support packages of former recipients and those that appear to have made systematic cuts. The figures reveal that more than 250 Disabled people with high support needs have lost support.
Both Islington, who has 69 former ILF recipients living within the borough, Hammersmith & Fulham, who have 35, and Barking and Dagenham, have reported 0 decreases in individual social care packages since the closure of the ILF. By contrast, in Waltham Forest nearly two thirds of former ILF recipients have experienced a cut to their support with nearly 40% losing more than half of their support; in Greenwich nearly half of the borough’s 43 former ILF recipients have experienced a cut with over one quarter of those being a cut of over 50% of their support package.
Six councils (3) failed to respond to the information requests saying they do not hold the relevant data despite having been awarded more than 14 and a half million pounds between them through the Former ILF Recipient Grant. They include Hounslow who emerged as one of the worst offending London boroughs within the first year following closure, making cuts to 59% of the support packages of former recipients.
Information shared by the 27 councils who did respond show a total of 43 complaints from former ILF recipients and confirm that some individuals have been moved into residential care as a consequence of the closure. They also reveal high numbers of ineligible referrals for Continuing Healthcare funding made by certain boroughs (4).
Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, said: “When the government announced the closure of the Independent Living Fund they assured Disabled people that it was not a cut but a transfer to local authorities. These latest figures have once again validated concerns about the loss of essential daily support by those with the highest needs. What they don’t convey is the anxiety and distress experienced by so many former ILF recipients as they go through lengthy re-assessments and too often then have to battle for reinstatement of support that their local authority is trying to remove. The government created the Former ILF Recipient Grant in response to our campaign against the ILF closure but the awards to local authorities are not ring-fenced and can be spent on anything. As responses to our FOIs show, a small number of London boroughs have so little regard for their responsibilities under this Grant that they are no longer holding data about which of their residents are former recipients. We commend boroughs like Hammersmith and Fulham and Islington who are taking seriously their responsibilities towards provision of independent living support but our research highlights the existence of a social care post code lottery. It also raises the question of what will happen after the final year of the Grant in 2020 and underlines why we need a national independent living support service independent of local authorities.”
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: “We recognise that independent living support is critically important for Disabled people to be able to participate as equal citizens. That’s why we guaranteed to continue our funding after the ILF was cut by the Government. Without this funding, our residents – who are often the most excluded from everyday life – could have been left facing severe and adverse consequences. We have also abolished home care charges and invested an extra £3.4m per year into adult social care.”
Notes for Editors
- Government response to the consultation confirming that the ‘Former ILF Recipient Grant’ will be paid to local authorities as outlined in the consultation document: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523090/160414_Annex_A_-_Former_ILF_Recipient_Consultation_response.pdf
Consultation document including breakdown of amount paid to each local authority: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/former-independent-living-fund-recipient-grant
- The boroughs who responded to say they do not hold the information requested include Barnet, Croydon, Hounslow, Sutton, Wandsworth and Westminster. Internal reviews have been requested.
- For example, Brent made 12 CHC referrals with only 3 former ILF recipients found eligible, and Newham made 19 with 2 found eligible. CHC assessments are lengthy with intrusive questioning.