Campaigners have vowed to fight on as a high court judge fails to overturn the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund.
Activists and users of the Independent Living Fund have told Disability Now that they are pessimistic about a successful appeal following a high court judge’s ruling not to overturn the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund in 2015.
A judicial review had been brought on the grounds that the government failed to explain why it is only considering a closure of the fund as an option; did not give adequate information about the difference between local authority provision, concerned with basic needs, and the ILF, which is concerned with giving people with high support needs independence; and that it breached its legal duty by not carrying out an impact assessment.
Anne Pridmore, one of five disabled people behind the judicial review, said that the judge’s decision was ‘devastating’.
“I am very scared and I can see myself ending up in an old peoples home in March 2015.”
She said that she was not optimistic that the appeal would succeed and added: “The percentage of the total welfare budget spent on disabled people is less than four per cent, most of it goes on pensions. Destroying the fabric of disabled people’s lives is not going to do an awful lot for the economy.”
Another disabled person behind the judicial review, Gabriel Pepper, said: “In a country where an atrocity is imminent, no one should be surprised by the decision of the judge. This case is by no means over, a fair judgement will not come from an English court. How can it when our justice minister is a joke? This case will have to go to the United Nations, they will have to embarrass the UK.”
Jenny Hurst, another ILF user, described the high court failure to overturn the government’s decision as ‘a massive blow’.
“I was sitting in the court room on the first day and the evidence was incontrovertible, the fact that this was a cuts-related change rather than a reform which had been mentioned in the consultation. I was absolutely convinced that the court case would go our way.
The disabled researcher Jenny Morris, who advised the government on the development of the Independent Living Strategy, said that the government did not have a good case for closing the fund, particularly in light of its commitment to the independent living strategy.
She said: “The government mis-represented what people’s opinions were when they responded to their consultation about closure. They said that there was strong support from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association for the ILF closing. But if you actually look at the written response from ADASS and the LGA there’s no way you could say that they were strongly supporting it.”
She added: “The largest group of ILF users are people with ‘severe learning disabilities’. These are the people who end up in the Winterbourne Views if there isn’t funding for them to live in the community. What plans does the government or our society have for enabling them to lead ordinary lives?”
Linda Burnip, from Disabled People Against Cuts, said that it was ‘disappointing’ to lose the court case and added: “Disabled people are being rapidly stripped of any rights they may have and the idea of equality for disabled people is being rapidly eroded. Disabled people will become incarcerated in their own homes, left with packs of incontinence pads instead of support to go to the toilet or forcibly catheterised. In the 21st century for the seventh richest nation to do this is outrageous.”