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|02 Jun 2017|
Forth Valley Stronger Together
The successful challenge to the government over the decision to close the Independent LIving Fund has raised wider issues. The EHRC had been an interested party in the court case.
The Commission intervened in the case, as an expert body with a mandate from parliament to oversee the public sector equality duty. The Commission was seeking to clarify what is required for a public body decision-maker to show that proper consideration has been given to the impact of a proposal which affects people with a protected characteristic under equality law.
The reason for the court's decision is that the judges decided there was insufficient evidence that the 'very grave impact' on some of those affected was properly brought to the Minister's attention, despite officials having been clearly informed of the possible impacts not only by service users but also by local authorities.
The court reiterated the importance of record keeping in being able to demonstrate that 'due regard' to the need to advance equality of opportunity has been had, and that general regard to issues of equality is not the same as a conscious approach to the statutory criteria.
Scotland is entering a year of debate and discussion over the future of its position within the United Kingdom. On September the 18th 2014, there will be a referendum on whether Scotland should be independent. In the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, we want to make sure that people with learning disabilities have as much of a say in Scotland's referendum as other citizens.
We are currently running workshops for people with learning disabilities to look at the issues arising from the Independence Referendum. These are available to any parts of our member organisations. Please get in touch if you would like to book one of these for your group or organisation.
On Tuesday 7th November the Appeal Court in London upheld a legal challenge to the government's decision to close down the Independent Living Fund. The judge held that the government had failed to take account of their duties under the Public Sector Equality Duty to promote equality of opportunity.
This is a good step forward but does not yet mean the Independent Living Fund is saved. The government may yet carry out a quick consultation or another manoeuvre that allows them to meet their legal duties and then go ahead and close the fund anyway. There is still 18 months before the fund is due to close in April 2015.
Meanwhile we would expect the Scottish Government to continue analysing the results of their consultation on the future of the ILF in Scotland. The ILF may be saved in the end but nothing is certain yet.
One of the important recommendations in the Keys to Life calls for work to be done in bringing people who have placements outwith Scotland back to services here.
Many local authorities place people with complex needs in specialist units south of the border. Over recent years, some work has helped people move to local placements.
But we think it is important not to forget NHS placements south of the border too.
At Northgate Hospital, near Morpeth in Northumberland there are a group of long stay residents who been stuck there for years. Eleven people ranging in age from the early 20s up to their late 40s all come from Scotland but are stuck miles away from family and familiar places.
People with learning disabilities die more than 16 years earlier than other people on average, in part because of inadequate healthcare and unequal access to services, according to Bristol University research.
Confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities, examined the deaths of 247 people with learning disabilities in South West England from 2010-12.
The median age of death for people with learning disabilities was 65 for men, compared with 78 for the UK population, and 63 for women, compared with 83 for the UK population. Overall, 22% of people with learning disabilities died before the age of 50, compared with 9% of the general population.