Two weeks ago Mike Penning announced the UK government’s decision to go ahead with the closure of the Independent Living Fund from June 2015 for users in England and Wales. Existing funding would be transferred to local authorities and users would become dependent on local authorities assessment of their need and a subsequent allocation of resources.
The situation in Scotland is quite DIFFERENT. The funding for existing ILF user will be transferred to the Scottish Government with effect from June 2015 and they have made a COMMITMENT to honour all existing awards for as long as funds continue to be transferred to them. This means that existing ILF users will be protected in the short term. Future decisions will depend on financial settlements in the long term and the current Scottish Government is clear that they intend to offer this protection for as long as possible.
No public announcement has been made by the Scottish Government to this effect as they have not yet been formally told by the DWP of the decision to close the ILF. This formal notice will include details of the proposed financial assessment and having it is essential to making sure that the Scottish Government can carry out their plans. Some scrutiny of this notice will be needed because the change of dates for the closure of the fund will alter the details of the financial assessment. A formal announcement will follow in due course. The hope is this will be no longer than 2 weeks from today.
Meanwhile the previous plans remain ready to go. The consultation that was carried out last year on the future management of the ILF resources in Scotland is still live and once the financial information has been received then the Minister will consider the analysis of the consultation and the financial information and decide how to go forward. We can hope to see the consultation responses and the analysis of these first published on the Scottish Government website and hopefully shortly after the Scottish Government’s plans for using any spare ILF money as it becomes available.
We would reiterate that for the short term ILF users in Scotland will have their existing support packages maintained.