The government is planning to abolish the Independent Living Fund by 2015. The fund, which spends £398 million helping 21,000 severely disabled people fund carers has been closed for new claimants and will vanish entirely in 2015. The government claims that local authorities will still have to provide care for the people who have lost out, but there is several problems with this approach.
At present, the Independent Living Fund is used to provide carers to the severely disabled in their homes, at a cost of around £300 a week per person. This is so they can remain in their own homes rather than having to go into care homes. If the Independent Living Fund is abolished then it is more likely that the severely disabled will have to go into care homes. However dedicated the care staff are in a care home, the majority of people will always be better off living in their home and thus will be happier. On the cost side too, it is unclear whether the fund will produce a saving, as the costs of running a care home are high.
I think that the state should focus on helping the weakest and most vulnerable in society. It should help them, if possible, in a way that most suits them, which the Independent Living Fund does, but paying for their care without them having to sacrifice their surroundings and independence. It is wrong that a state can find millions to spend on researching happiness, or hiring ‘Senior Media Officers’ for Sport England while reducing support for the most vulnerable in society. While it is true that cuts need to be made thanks to Labour’s destruction of the public finances, the cuts should hit where the state is at its most bloated and unnecessary, rather than at key areas like this.
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Filed in: Disability