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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.
Care Charging has many complications in it. One of the latest is a back door method where councils try to bring mobility DLA into their financial calculations by expecting people who get self directed support to use their DLA for travel costs by reducing their individual budget.
Most councils know that mobility DLA cannot be included as income for charging. Their own policies state this and the national COSLA guidance reiterates this. However we know that a number of councils have been suggesting that where a person has mobility DLA they will expect them to use this to pay for taxis, buses or car costs to get to and from social work services. For example, in Glasgow, a number of families have been told that they will have to start getting their sons and daughters to their day services because the council will not provide travel to those with mobility DLA. According to them this is double funding.
However it is unlikely that many have ever looked at the legislation that covers mobility DLA. This states
A payment to or in respect of any person which is attributable to his entitlement to the mobility component, and the right to receive such a payment, shall (except in prescribed circumstances and for prescribed purposes) be disregarded in applying any enactment or instrument under which regard is to be had to a person’s means.
A social care assessment is carried out under the Social Work Scotland 1968 Act and as such mobility DLA should be completely disregarded from the assessment process. This means that local authorities cannot take into account whether a person does or does not get Mobility DLA. Those who do get it should be treated no different than those who don't. its time councils took their hands off people's Mobility DLA.
THE political head of Scotland's largest social work department has been removed from his role, in a move opposition politicians claim is a sacking after a turbulent year. Glasgow's Matt Kerr will now become the city council's executive member for personnel, a post vacated following the death earlier this month of fellow Labour councillor George Ryan.
Glasgow social work has been subject to a lot of questions and scrutiny over the implementation of a controversial version of personalisation. Many users and carers felt this was more about cuts than giving people choice. Only last Friday a number of carers spoke to the Glasgow Herald over concerns about their care services and their concerns about bullying.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to set up a new Scottish Enablement Fund to be run by an independent trust as part of their future plans for the transferred resources from the Independent Living Fund.
The Scottish Government is planning to maintain payments to all existing users of the ILF for as long as it continues to get funding from Westminster. But it wants to know what to do with any existing monies that become available and how they could be best used to support disabled people.
In its consultation response LDAS has suggested that this money could be used to help disabled people achieve valued outcomes such as maintaining friendships and getting jobs on a sustainable basis where local authorities do no prioritise such aims.
The new fund would be a “light touch” trust that would step in after individuals had been assessed by social workers and received their individual budgets through Self Directed Support. This would let the fund’s resources be used to meet outcomes that local authorities had decided not to meet.
An independent trust to manage this money would be able to replicate the low administrative costs that have been a feature of the Independent Living Fund. It would also be able to make resources available on both a short term, long term and one off basis.
Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said, “We have heard from many people about how they value the ILF and are worried that local authorities might take control on fund. Many fear losing the flexibility of the fund. We think this proposal provides a real opportunity for the Scottish Government to create new opportunities for disabled people.”
The consultation closes on Friday November 1st 2013. Read our full consultation response here.