Last gasp challenge mounted in attempt to save Independent Living Fund from closure
Two disabled people have lodged a complaint with the United Nations (UN) over the UK government’s plan to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
The two people, who live in England, argue that closing the ILF is in breach of the UK’s obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which was ratified by the UK in 2009.
They are being supported by the charity Inclusion London.
In December 2010 the government announced it would be closing the fund to new applicants and will fully close ILF to all users from 30 June 2015.
From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF
Since announcing the closure of the fund, the decision has been subjected to a long legal battle between the government, disabled people and organisations who represent them.
The first challenge was won by disabled claimants at the Court of Appeal in November 2013 and the second was lost in the High Court in December 2014.
Responsibility for providing care solutions for severely disabled people has been devolved to administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to local authorities in England.
Thousands of disabled people in Scotland are set to be supported through a new Scottish ILF.
Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), which is supporting the challenge, said: “It is the pooling of resources and collective solidarity that has allowed this to happen.
“We’re grateful to DPAC supporters for their financial support towards travel costs, to the solicitor and barrister who gave their time pro bono, to Inclusion London for their staffing resources and of course to the two disabled women willing to put themselves forward to make a complaint on an issue that affects all disabled people in the UK.
“Without all of these factors this could never have been brought to fruition.”
Solicitor Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Pearce Glynn, who is representing the complainants, said: “From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF to new applicants with no consultation or consideration of the rights protected under the UN Convention.
“Under Article 19, those rights include the fundamental right to independent living which has clearly been breached by this decision and I hope that the UN Committee takes appropriate action to recognise these very significant breaches”.