CEJ backs disabled people fighting closure of Independent Living Fund
Next week, on Tuesday 30th June, the UK government’s closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will come into effect. The ILF supports physically disabled adults with high-level needs to live in their own homes.
As Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) have pointed out, its closure directly contravenes Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It also directly contravenes Christ’s life-giving message of support to those on the margins in our society. The right of disabled people to live in their own homes is fundamental to an equal society and living out the Kingdom of God on earth.
The good news is that the devolved parliaments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have all recognised the importance of its continuance in some form, and have secured this continuance. As the UK government has done no such thing across the board, the ILF will be closed in England. Users of the fund in England face a very unsure future.
The government claims that they have protected the future security of individuals who are losing their ILF support. Their argument is that they are giving local authorities the funding to cover the costs of the ILF within care packages.
They have in fact done no such thing.
They are providing this funding for only one year, and have not ring-fenced it. In some areas of England users may in effect be able to continue their support in its current form for one year. However, they have no security that this will be the case, and thereafter they have no idea how their support needs will be met. Many may very well be left without support which is vital for their independence and dignity at night. Others will be effectively forced into residential care where their independence will be severely curtailed.
As Christians. we should stand together in sending a message to this government that this is very wrong and indeed anti-Christian. Disabled or non-disabled, those of us who can must resist the corrosion of freedom and equality in our society. We cannot stand aside while this government continues to push those who are already marginalised further away from active engagement in society: this is one step in disempowering disabled people and rendering them more invisible.
DPAC’s final lobby of MPs on the issue takes place at the Houses of Parliament from 11.00am today (Wednesday 24th June). If you can’t attend, please email or send a letter to your MP.
DPAC’s website contains much more information, including several videos which go into more detail about how this cut will affect current users of the ILF in England.