A number of major changes are planned in Britain's benefit system. We are campaigning to make sure people with learning disabilities are protected in these changes.
There are a number of things that you can do about the Bedroom Tax.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has published a new guide to the Bedroom Tax. You can download the guide here.
After you have been told your housing benefit will be reduced you can appeal the decision. You can get more information on exactly how to do this from the Govan Law Centre. You will need to send the completed appeal form to your own local Housing Benefit office. You will need to be quick as there is a time limit on this.
You can also apply for Discretionary Housing Payments. You will probably only get this if you fall into a priority category but you should ask for an application form and give as much detail as possible.
You should join a local campaign against the Bedroom Tax. In Scotland you can get more detail here
In the next few months, the Scottish Government will be launching a consultation over the future of the Independent Living Fund in Scotland but meanwhile the plans of the Department of Work And Pensions have left disabled people with the highest support needs in fear and distress.
Documents released by the DWP as part of a legal challenge (available on our website) shows
· The DWP deliberately timed the announcement of the closure of the ILF so that it would not coincide with the Chancellor’s 2012 Autumn Statement and so that the “decision to close the fund is positioned and received as a reform, not a cut to support.”
· The DWP expect significant cuts in budgets for ILF users. Local councils “are unlikely to be able to honour [ILF awards] on an ongoing basis… That may mean reductions in funding, but outcomes could be protected using a different range of services or more cost effective support. For example, councils might ask users to spend one day per week attending day care provision.”
· The DWP expects in some cases local authorities to replace independent living with residential care and believe it is wrong for them to intervene to prevent this.
The Independent Living Fund supports 3,300 people with disabilities in Scotland. Most claimants are young with over 75% of them under 55 years of age.
Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said, “This reflects our concerns over the last couple of years, that the transfer of ILF to local councils in Scotland will mean big cuts in care for the most vulnerable people. Nearly 40% of people who get ILF have learning disabilities. It is really important the Scottish government finds a way to protect the support and help that those people with ILF awards have come to depend on.”
Sheila Finlayson from Edinburgh who has benefited from the ILF for over 10 years said, “The ILF pays for support for me, that the council might not give. If it goes, then I will be really worried about the future.”
The London court case is taken by 6 individuals who are claiming the consultation was illegal due to a failure to provide adequate information about the changes. They are say that there has not been an adequate assessment of the impact of the closure of the ILF on disabled people’s ability to live and work independently.
At the hearing on Tuesday 5 March, the judge gave DWP 14 days to make a case against the judicial review, saying it was too soon to have a full hearing before 1 April. However, if the case does goes ahead, there could be a full hearing in early May. Some of the judge’s comments were encouraging… we just need to wait to see what will happen next!
A message from Disabled People Against the Cuts
We are opposed to the closure of the Independent Living Fund – a national fund that enables disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community
Without the ILF disabled people with the highest support needs will lose essential support – local authorities cannot provide disabled people with the same level or type of support as the ILF and some people who get support from the Independent Living Fund now are not eligible for support from local authorities at all
Disabled people will be forced into residential care against their wishes, losing choice and control over their lives