A cut as incompetent as it is callous

December 19, 2012 10:59 am

Ed Miliband’s recent description of the Tory-led coalition as a “make-it-up-as-you-go-along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower”, rings depressingly true given the slap-dash and incompetent nature of many of their polices.

Yesterday the government announced the closure of the Independent Living Fund, a body that helps people with severe disabilities live in their own home and gives them the independence to work and study. Like many cuts this government has made, it is not only a cruel move that will lead to unnecessary suffering, but also flies in the face of the government’s policy priorities and will cost more money than it saves.

In the run up to Christmas the government has gone into news-burying overdrive and amongst the 22 written ministerial statements released this Tuesday, was one announcing the closure of the Independent Living Fund. The ILF has over 20 years experience in helping support those with the highest levels of disability live in their own homes, which would be impossible for many without this help.

The statement itself recognises that there is a palpable sense of fear amongst the clients of the fund, who are currently able to be part of society and contribute in a number of ways, from running businesses to attending university. With the closure of the ILF, they could end up being moved to institutions where they will be unable to leave or move around freely as they have previously. This latest move has been coming since the government stopped the fund from taking on new cases in 2010.

This plan is for the function of the ILF to be moved to local authorities, in spite of the ILF being both more efficient, with only 2% of spending going on overheads compared to 10-24% in Local Authority’s care grants, and also more experienced when it comes to helping the most vulnerable. The average local authority currently has only a handful of clients with the highest needs, whilst the ILF supports around 20,000 people.

The government are failing the test that any compassionate society should be measured by: how they support those who are most at risk. They are failing their own policy objective of encouraging more independent living for disabled people. And ludicrously, they are even failing to cut the deficit – a priority that so much is measured against.

In terms of cash spent and saved, this policy will not work because it is more expensive to keep people in care homes than in their own homes. Indeed, the difference between the cost of the average ILF award and keeping someone in a home is £37,000 per person per year.

Given that, a significant number of the 20,000 who currently receive ILF (and those who would be entitled had new cases been allowed after 2010) will no longer be able to afford the care they need to live in their own homes. Thousands of disabled people will have to fall back on care homes and institutions provided by already overstretched local authorities.

By cutting the Independent Living Fund, the government will succeed in growing the deficit and making people miserable.

This case is stark but by no means unique. If the public won’t kick the Coalition out over their attacks on the NHS, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, women, unions, teachers and children, perhaps they can be convinced to sack them for bad management.

  • Timmo111

    Has labour said sorry for letting atos loose on the sick and disabled ?
    It seems odd that when in power labour chose to get atos involved at a time before the crash and at a time when the top rate of tax was only 40p but when not in power and after the crash labour say they want to help disabled people, such as myself.
    Until labour apologise for atos they can not claim to be on the sick and disabled persons side.

  • rekrab

    Today at PMQ’s, a labour MP had a suicide note from one of his constituents, sadly this person ended their life because of Ian Duncan Smith’s changes to the disability benefits system.Surely if someone’s actions lead to the death of another, then that person must face legal action.Who will raise the legal challenge against IDS?

    • rekrab

      To the person who marked down the comment I say this. More people have died due to IDS and his benefit changes than British soldiers fighting a war in Afghan.

      Time IDS faced the law.

  • PaulHalsall

    Tories, ,all of them, are shit

  • Gabrielle

    Well said rekrab, and very good (though depressing) article by Josh. Can’t believe your comment was marked down.

    Like Josh says, this government is as incompetent as it is cruel.

  • PaulHalsall

    It is not possible to be a Tory and a Christian.

    I dismiss all you after today’s destruction of the Independent living fund. I expect to have to have to kill myself in the next year. I don’t get that ILA, but I do get DLA, which is next on target.

    Would you employ a a bright person with AIDS, lack of continence, fear of buses and trams unless I know my destination, fear of leaving my house because of inconintence, fear of getting home every night without crapping on thee metro or in a taxi.

    Often I just want to die and it all be over.

    I am OK for now. In fact I paid off all my bills today and have money for Christmas. But I am terrified.

    • rekrab

      @Paul, hang on in there mate, here’s a little tune I really like at this time of year, hope it brightens you up a bit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZeAImrvtqw

    • http://twitter.com/JoshFG Joshua Fenton-Glynn

      Paul, thank you so much for commenting on this blog, I think too often those who comment and set policy are isolated from it’s effects.

      You sound like a wonderful man with a hell of a lot to offer. Look after yourself and don’t disrepair, there are plenty of people on your side.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshFG Joshua Fenton-Glynn

    I think allowing the privet sector to make these decisions was a massive mistake. I, personally, don’t object to work capability assessments if they are fair, but they should be the judgement of a doctor not a box ticking exercise conducted by a company with a profit motive.

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