Scrapping the Independent Living Fund is a careless policy, but at least we’re still protesting about it

Latest cut will take away the independence of 18,000 disabled people


Yesterday afternoon, protest erupted in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.

While PMQs continued as though fifty people weren’t demonstrating just down the hallway, Twitter was alive with photographs of the police moving disabled protesters, some to their discomfort.

Watching Daily Politics, one half expected to see a mass of protesters enter the Commons on the live feed, until the camera cut back and Andrew Neil revealed – rather disappointedly, it seemed – that they had been forced to cut their coverage.

The protest was held against the abolition of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), the name of which describes its purpose; fundamentally, it allows the disabled to live at home within their communities rather than be moved into residential care, by giving them money.

The ILF offers essential monetary support for those who cannot care for themselves. But on 30 June, it will cease to exist. Its funding will be redistributed to local councils who will have the responsibility to provide care for their disabled people.

This isn’t the first demonstration surrounding the ILF; there was one in June last year, not long after its termination was announced, and it stands to reason that it won’t be the last.

Of course, the decision to scrap the ILF is just one more policy in a careless government’s irresponsible manifesto of cuts. During such a horrendous climate of funding, it is simply wrong to think that local councils will responsibly handle the provision of care packages to the disabled, especially considering their track record.

There is no obligation to use funding on disabled care, not to mention that the fact that funding is to be pulled after a year. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that this decision could ruin lives – perhaps even take them.

It’s clear that scrapping the ILF will be detrimental to the independence of many of the 18,000 disabled people who rely on it across the country.

More than this, it is detrimental to anyone who believes in looking after the most vulnerable in society (a belief David Cameron himself championed back in 2010).

One positive we can take from all this is that people are still willing to protest for the things they believe in. Throughout the coalition, and now into the Conservatives’ term, the British population has demonstrated it is willing to show the government when it is unhappy.

It doesn’t look like the ILF can be saved. But at least we’re willing to show that we’re angry about it going.

James Alston studies History at Cardiff University. Read his blog here

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.