Court Battle Looms Amid Cuts to Public Spending for Disabled in UK

LONDON(Sputnik) — Luke was content with his level of care until two years ago, when the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was scrapped. Whilst previously the ILF was administered to permit those in receipt of Disability Living Allowance to live independently, the fund’s termination caused a gap in financial provision, with local authorities now solely responsible for funding his care.

“Luke’s situation is not dissimilar to that of many others around the country, and for that reason alone it’s very important. There’s been a massive reduction in funding to local authorities for social care, and if we can win here then it should go a long way to reversing the kind of austerity measures disabled people have been enduring,” Linda Burnip, co-founder of the campaigning group Disabled People Against Cuts, told Sputnik.

Luke subsequently saw the funding of his care package plummet from 1,651 pounds ($2,120) to 950 pounds ($1,220). Of the initial sum, 730 pounds ($937), came via the ILF.

Formerly receiving 24-hour care, Luke now gets just 18 hours of professional assistance, something his legal team insists has impacted his psychological well-being, as well as his capacity to carry out day-to-day activities. Even though a previous attempt at legal action resulted in failure back in February, Luke remains confident that he yet has a case.

The ILF had been in operation since 1988 as a means to centralize assistance to severely disabled people across the UK. Since 1996, however, local councils have become more involved in care provision for the disabled, something the Conservative government used to argue in favor of curtailing and ultimately stopping the ILF.

“What you’re looking at here is a failure to allocate resources. The Independent Living Fund was closed to new applicants in 2010 and then shut down altogether in 2015. But the people in need of help didn’t just go away or cease to be in need, and the failure to allocate sufficient funding to local authorities to make up for this has placed a great many in a difficult situation,” Sue Bott, Director of Policy and Development at Disability Rights UK, told Sputnik.

She added that Davey’s case is important not only for him, but for many other disabled people suffering from the lack of care following ILF’s shutdown.

“In that respect Luke’s court battle is very important and very significant in that he represents people across the country in a similar predicament,” she stressed.

This case again puts Britain’s ability to care for its disabled citizens under scrutiny. Disabled people are believed to make up a disproportionately large percentage of the country’s poor. According to findings from the New Policy Institute, 28 percent – or 3.9 million people – of those already living in poverty are thought to be disabled, with another 20 percent live in a household with a disabled person.

Unison, a trade union that represents carers and other strata, has also long criticized the government over ongoing welfare reforms they believe have led to a “serious crisis in social care in the UK.”

Citing inadequate funding, outsourcing to the private sector and low wages coupled with long working hours for carers, Unison maintains that disabled people across the UK have seen a palpable fall in living standards, with their collective income dropping by five hundred million pounds since the budget of 2010.

The UK Care Act 2014 represents the latest version of country’s social care legislation. It was implemented following substantial public consultation, but was criticized for some of the funding reforms included within it.

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