Independent Living Fund clients in England and Wales will not have their care packages protected when the agency is abolished and its budget transferred to councils in 2015, despite strong support for this approach from service users.
The Department for Work and Pensions said it would press ahead with plans to scrap the ILF - which provides £330m a year in cash payments for personal care or domestic help to almost 20,000 disabled people across the UK - despite overwhelming opposition from fund users.
A "significant majority" of individuals who responded to the DWP consultation on the plan opposed it, with service users saying they feared local authorities would cut their ILF packages when they reassessed them. Those service users and carers who said they would support transferring the budget to councils said this would have to be on the condition that care packages remained unaltered.
The Bedroom Tax is a terrible attack on the lives of people with learning disabilities. Many have taken years to build up friendships and local networks and now face having to move home and lose everything that matters to them.
Duncan, one of our members, has lived in a 2 bedroom flat in a small coastal down in the West of Scotland for the last 7 years. Over time he has learned how to keep the house in good order and to get around in the local area. The property is provided by a housing association that also provides his support but due to peculiarities of Housing Benefit is excluded from the “exempt” supported accommodation definition. If this change comes into effect, he risks being forced to move and having to start all over again n learning how to manage, not only in a new house but also in a new area.
The Bedroom Tax is a change in Housing Benefit for tenants of social housing that takes a very simple definition of “under occupation” and uses it to reduce benefits payments by between 14% and 25%. As a result, tenants will not have enough money to pay the full rent.
The DWP has published the new criteria for Personal Independence Payment today. This is the final draft of the assessment criteria and they will be adopted into law by regulation prior to implementation from April 2013.
There have been some significant changes that will be of interest to people with learning disabilities and in particular those with other conditions. Here is our first summary of the changes of what they might mean.
- There is no change in qualifying number of points – 8 for standard and 12 for enhanced PIP payments
- The Communicating criteria has been split into two new areas – Communicating Verbally and Understanding Signs, Symbols and Words. Both of these new criteria can score highly and as a result it is possible to score 8 points on this. Many people with learning disabilities will find it easier to qualify for the benefit as a result of this change.
- In some criteria, individuals will be able to count using ordinary aids such as “electric can openers” as an aid and therefore qualify for a high number of points.
- There has been a new answer added to the Managing Health Conditions question which gives an additional point to those who use aids to manage medication – so people using dosettes for tablets would qualify under this.
- There have been other important changes in the Washing and in the Dressing/Undressing criteria which will make it easier for people to apply for benefits
On Wednesday 28th The Scottish Parliament passed the new self directed support bill. This creates for the first time a new legal framework to allow people to manage and control their own support.
LDAS will shortly be publishing a review of progress by local councils in implementing SDS. What we found is that the vast majority of councils are just starting out on the strategic planning of SDS or running small scale test projects. There won't be a rush to make sure people take Self Directed Support up in most councils.
In a bit of good news, the Minister for Public Health announced that while the bill gave local authorities the power to charge carers for support they recieved, he would be shortly introducing regulations that would stop councils charging carers for any support offered under Section 2 of the Act. We will need to wait until the regulations are published before we know how wide this waiver will go. But for those of us who have been campaigning against Care Charges for a while, this is a welcome development which acknowledges that the Scottish Government has both the power and a duty to intervene when care charges are a problem.