ephemerid wrote:There is a small item "In The Back" of Private Eye about the abolition of the Independent Living Fund.
Mike Penning, now the Minister for Disabled People, has, as we know, decided not to accept the Appeal Courts' judgement that the ILF should not be abolished because the government had not considered its duties to disabled people under the Equality Act.
Penning claims to have now considered those duties and is closing the ILF anyway and it will be gone for good in June.
The average fund allocation is about £300 PCM per person; the criteria for qualification are very strict. There are 18,000 recipients, and the cost is, on average, £64 Million PA. The fund in total is worth about £300 Million, and as well as paying regular amounts to claimants for care and work support, it also funds grants for adaptations and equipment etc.
Penning has decided to devolve the responsibility for all of this to local authorities, and intends to allocate cash for the purpose which is not ring-fenced. Local authorities already fund care packages in part with the ILF, and the rationale for closing it down is to make LAs fund all care packages in full. This is, apparently, how the government thinks it should be done; there are some recipients of ILF money who are not currently being supported by their LAs, and the government disapproves of this.
Maria Miller promised a widespread consultation of ILF users and concerned others; this did not happen. McVey announced the closure of the fund; Penning has now confirmed it.
The government has not specified how much cash will go to LAs to replace the ILF; it is not likely to be the full amount, IMHO.
The LAs can decide how they spend whatever the amount is - and it's a retrograde step for disability rights, because the ILF and any match funding supplied by LAs were for the specific purpose of maintaining the rights of a disabled person to live in their own community. LAs could now choose to fund only residential care if they wish - or even none at all.
Also in that Private Eye article was a reference to a report entitled "Counting the Cuts" from the Centre for Welfare Reform.
This shows how the cuts and changes affect disabled people disproportionately. 4.5 million of them.
If you are poor, but able-bodied, you have lost on average £1,126 PA. Tax credit changes, Housing and Council Tax Benefit changes, below-inflation uprating of JSA and Income Support, bedroom tax, etc. have decimated the disposable incomes of the working poor and the unemployed.
A single JSA claimant in a one-bedroom LA home all paid for has a benefit income of about £3,600 PA; from this, he/she must find new Council Tax charges and has lost between 5%-10% of disposable income. A spare bedroom will chop off another £200 or so PA; a private rental would involve a landlord payment of, well, anything.
Someone working but not able to get 30 hours may no longer get tax credits; the limit was previously 16 hours (the level at which the employer must pay a Class 1 NI contribution) and that's one of the reasons why people are struggling even if they work. They too are subject to other cuts and new charges.
If you are disabled, you have lost on average £4,660. Assume that a claimant is in receipt of the highest possible rates of ESA/IB, DLA/PIP, and gets the average monthly payment from the ILF, the maximum income is £16,000 approximately; plus Housing and Council Tax Benefits which vary across the UK.
Whatever the LA puts towards a care package (and they are costing more and delivering less) that and the ILF money is spoken for and is not used for anything else. That takes the annual income from benefits (excluding HB/CTB) down to about £12,500 PA. The DLA/PIP is also spoken for and is counted towards care and mobility needs, leaving about £5,200.
From that, the claimant must now find bedroom tax. 70% of all people subject to this are disabled. That's a minimum of £600 PA for one room deemed spare, leaving £4,700. From that, the claimant must also find some Council Tax, which is on average £260 PA; leaving £4,400 PA. A second "spare" room, and income falls to less than £3,000 PA.
So - if you are unemployed and claiming JSA, your disposable income has dropped from £3,600 PA to £3,400 PA or less; if you are sick and/or disabled, claiming the maximum available and using your DLA/PIP/ILF for their intended purposes, your income has dropped from £5,200 PA to £4,400 PA.
That's a real terms cut in the disposable income of our poorest - and it does not allow for sanctions, suspensions, disallowances, or the new system of fines and charges; it does not allow for the loss of at least one weeks' benefit due to new rules on JSA and ESA which stipulate all claimants must wait 7 days before the claim is registered and JSA claimants must satisfy certain conditions or that first week can be repeated indefinitely; it does not allow for fares etc. for people who have to sign on daily or pay for travel to their workfare providers, including sick people on ESA.
This real terms cut is compounded by the increased costs of living.
CPI and RPI measures include things that people do not buy very often - holidays abroad, smartphones, etc. It's 2.6%.
The Essentials Index includes the basics - water, fuel, food, clothing, transport, and medicines. It's rising at 10% a year.
So our poorest and most vulnerable, people out of work and forced into workfare, people with illnesses and disabilities, have lost at least 10% of their income and in some cases more, and have to find 10% more in living costs from less than ever.
What I want to know is this - HOW CAN OUR GOVERNMENT CLAIM THAT THIS IS HELPING PEOPLE?
Share personal experiences or ask general benefit-related queries
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