Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are welcoming the success of pressure that they helped to apply to ensure that the district’s recipients of Independent Living Fund (ILF) payments have an extra year to deal with the withdrawal of the scheme by central government.
The ILF is a central government fund to assist people with disabilities to undertake aspects of everyday life that most people take for granted. In 2010 one of the first decisions by the Tory-led government was close the ILF to new applicants. The government has now decided to close the ILF entirely from July 2015.
For the period July 2015 to March 2016, central government is giving local councils a sum of money that is equivalent to that which would have been awarded to ILF recipients had the scheme not been shut down, but not before it removes and keeps 5% of the funding. Local councils have been left to decide what to do with the money they receive and the government is not requiring them to spend a single penny of that money on ILF recipients. From March 2016 the government will not provide any money at all for ILF.
Labour councillors responded to this move by launching a campaign, which includes an online petition, to ring-fence the July 2015 to March 2016 money for ILF recipients, and also to find the withheld 5% from council resources, totalling £37,500. This campaign appears to have been successful, and a recommendation to ring fence the ILF payments up to March 2016 is included in a budget report going to the council’s influential Policy & Resources Committee on 2nd March.
Labour’s Lead Member on Adult Care services, Councillor Andy Perkins (Woodstock ward) said:
“I welcome the apparent success of our campaign, which should take the immediate pressure off those disabled residents who rely on their ILF payments to live an independent life. The prospect of the council being able to continue this support when the central funding is pulled completely in March 2016 is pretty bleak, however, as South Gloucestershire Council is already having to make millions of pounds worth of savage cuts to balance its budget. The only realistic option to maintain this lifeline long-term is for central government to re-instate the funding.”