5 September 2016
The new co-leader of the Green Party has called on the Government to stop the post code lottery facing disabled people since the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Jonathan Bartley, who was announced as co-leader with Caroline Lucas on Friday , urged the Government and local authorities to ring fence former ILF money to end the culture of “fear and uncertainty” created by the closure of the ILF in June last year.
Bartley will speak at the launch of a report by Inclusion London, ‘One year on: Evaluating the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund’ , this afternoon (September 5).
The report found that big cuts by some local authorities, which are now responsible for supporting former ILF users, have created “a dramatic post code lottery across London for former ILF recipients”.
Bartley, who job shares the Green Party leadership in part so he can care for his disabled 14-year-old son Samuel, said:
“The report shows the Government does not understand disability and does not get inclusion. It is disabled people who are paying the terrible price, whose hard won rights and being taken away.
“Thousands of people relied on the ILF. The case studies in this report remind us that behind those figures there are real people with a real story, and often one of hardship.
“Many of the issues raised by the report resonate with my own experience of supporting my disabled son.
“I understand the fear and uncertainty that the ILF has clearly created. I understand, too, how the withdrawal of support, which would have gone some way to removing some of the barriers that disabled people face, is devastating.”
One former ILF user quoted in a case study in the report said:
“Being told my care recommendation is just three hours a day when I need someone with me 24 hours a day has left me stricken and panicked and fearful about how I am supposed to manage.”
The Green Party, which pledged to retain the ILF in its 2015 General Election manifesto, supports Inclusion London’s recommendation that the Government create a national, needs-led system to provide independent living support which is independent of local authorities.
It is also supports the recommendation for an independent living task force led by disabled people and those who receive social care to be at the heart of creating such a system.