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|07 Jul 2017|
Forth Valley Stronger Together
While in England, the Independent Living Fund is heading for closure, new possibilities are opening up in Scotland. The Scottish Government has recently launched its new consultation into what will replace the Independent Living Fund in Scotland.
Their intention is that current recipients should not have their existing funding taken away unless their personal circumstances change and they become ineligible. This should be a relief to many people who are worried that they might face their funds vanishing into the black hole of local councils' social work departments.
A key aim is that the Scottish Government will therefore seek to implement a scheme which will enable current recipients to continue to receive the same award as they would have had, had the Fund not been abolished, for so long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria which gave them access to the Fund.
There is a little caution over this as funding has only been agreed for the first year of the transfer 2015-16. Negotiations are underway on how much will be transferred in future years. But LDAS is led to believe that Scottish Government officials do not believe there will be a major problem in coming to an agreement.
As a result the main focus of the consultation is what to do with the relatively small amount of money that will be freed up each year as people's needs change or people stop their claims. The devolved ILF money will come to just over £50 million and current estimates suggest that about 10% of ILF funds become available each year. So we are talking about £5 million to start with.
Our favoured option is that the money could be put into a new fund that supported "valued outcomes" that people might not be able to access through local authority assessments either because they fell out with the eligibility criteria or local authorities refused to meet valued outcomes such as maintaining or making friendships.
Another option is that the money be used to support other people who could have applied for the ILF - a bit like a limited pot Scottish Independent Living Fund. This would mean substantial support for a relatively small number of people.
There are pros and cons to all the options but you can have your say in the consultation which closes at the start of November 2013.
On 31 July 2013 the High Court issued its judgement on ten claims involving disabled people who, it was argued, faced discrimination under the bedroom tax because of the amount of space and the number of rooms they realistically needed.
The Court accepted that the bedroom tax in relation to adults was discriminatory, but that this was objectively and reasonably justified and therefore lawful because discretionary payments are available to cover HB losses as a result of the bedroom tax.
Richard Stein, of law firm Leigh Day which is representing some of the families, has announced that they, along with the other lawyers acting on behalf of adults with disabilities, will appeal the judgement.
Lawyers for adults with disabilities today confirmed that they intend to appeal the ruling, arguing that the discriminatory impact of the measure on people with disabilities cannot be justified and is unlawful.
For more information on the Bedroom Tax - download our guide.
Today the Scottish Government launched its new consultation into what will replace the Independent Living Fund in Scotland. While there is a lot to work out, the Scottish Government’s intention is that current recipients should not have their existing funding taken away unless their personal circumstances change and they become ineligible. This should be a relief to many people who are worried that they might face their funds vanishing into the black hole of local councils' social work departments.
A key promise is that the Scottish Government will therefore seek to implement a scheme which will enable current recipients to continue to receive the same award as they would have had, had the Fund not been abolished, for so long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria which gave them access to the Fund. Their ability to support such a scheme is subject to sufficient levels of funding being devolved from the UK Government to the Scottish Government for this purpose.
As a result the main focus of the consultation is what to do with the relatively small amount of money that will be freed up each year as people's needs change or people stop their claims. The devolved ILF money will come to about £50 million and current estimates suggest that about 10% of ILF funds become available each year. So we are talking about £5 million to start with.
The Coalition Government is targeting hundreds of people with learning disabilities through its Bedroom Tax even though it says this is not its intention.
Many people with learning disabilities have their own tenancies and have Housing Association or council landlords but get support from a voluntary organisation unrelated to their house. Where they have a spare room they are not counted in the “supported exempt accommodation” category.
This category is a very limited group. Originally set up to help councils claim more housing benefit for their own projects, few voluntary sector organisation even if they owned the property and provided the care were invited to register in this category. Over the last few months there has been a rush to get eligible tenants and properties included in the books. As late as 29th March some tenants were being told that they were now included and were so excluded from the Housing Benefit reductions.
This has meant that those not covered have been overlooked and most people have thought that “supported exempt accommodation” covered more people than it actually does. A widening of this definition is urgently needed.
Recently members of LDAS went to speak to the Welfare Reform Committee about what this meant. This is Lynda’s story (pictured on right).
“I live in a nice street in the Southside of Glasgow but I was brought up in Lennox Castle, the huge learning disability hospital just outside Glasgow. This has been very hard for me and I have a lot of problems.
For the last 8 years I have lived in a semi detached house with a front and back garden. I have two bedrooms in my house. One used to be for my staff to stay over night but the council has cut my support and now it’s a spare room. I have to pay the Bedroom Tax. I don’t want to move. It’s a nice area and I get on well with my neighbours. They come in to help me when I get upset. And I might need staff at night again in the future.
It would be terrible to lose some of these things that I really enjoy. There have been times when I was never happy. If I do less now, I will be miserable again. I won’t move. I need my house. I know where I am and my neighbours help. ”
By Idem Lewis
There are a number of welfare reform changes that will make things harder for local councils.
1. Personal Independence payment (PIP) - People in social care may not get support as the PIP assessment is different from the social care assessment so people who get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) may not get Personal Independence Payment and with councils short of money also people cannot pay charging policy, local authorities will have to find the money through their general pot or vulnerable people will have no support plus legal action by their families.
2. Housing Benefit is moving to the UK Government from Local authorities with a housing Benefit cap. There will be no TUPE regulations under this proposal, so therefore people who work in Housing Benefit sections in local councils will be made redundant. The UK government wants local government to pay for this even though it is a UK Government idea for this change.