10 April 2015
The Independent Living Fund, which helps severely disabled people lead more contributory lives, was established over 25 years ago but is due to close at the end of June. Yesterday, 9th April, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party supported disability rights campaigner Mary Laver in her ‘March of Shame’, travelling in her power wheelchair from Westminster to the constituency office of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith bearing a large birthday card.
Rebecca Tully, our candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green was there to see Mary off and walked with her along the 14-mile route. As the contingent of mobility scooters and walking supporters arrived at the MP’s Station Road offices around 4.30pm, they were greeted by a lengthy ovation from party members and constituents. In the absence of Mr Duncan Smith who was spending his birthday elsewhere, two Conservative ward councillors received Mary’s card and message on his behalf. They also promised Mary Laver to work towards ring-fencing money for independent living at council level.
“The removal of the Independent Living Fund is unnecessary. It can be funded. The myth that we need austerity is just that – a myth. Essential services can be funded through – among other things - closing tax loopholes and taxing financial transactions in the city.
It makes no economic sense: From June, there will be less money in the pot and the temporary fund will cost more to administer. It will result in people being unable to look after themselves.
This will lead to either misery at home: relatives, carers unable to work, paid personal assistants not being able to do a good job or not being employed at all, or more expensive residential care.
The government is using arguments of ‘streamlining’ and ‘efficiency’ to erode essential services:
This has happened before: in moving from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments - In the process, large chunks of mobility payments were reassessed and now a great many people lack the means to leave their homes.
Locally: We are calling on Waltham Forest and Redbridge Local Authorities to follow the lead of others lead and ringfence this years’ money. We’re really happy that the councillors we met yesterday agreed. This is the very least that we can do and makes economic sense, and sense within our communities.
It is long term economic stupidity not to support the most vulnerable in our society.
This is about people. People being able to go on a date at 30 without your parents there. Able to do your full time professional job – the earnings of which you pay tax on. Able to get out of bed on a weekend because your care isn’t just Monday to Friday. Able to keep a pet, a pet that has spent their whole life with you.
More info about ILF through Disabled People Against the Cuts: http://dpac.uk.net/
To get involved locally in a campaign to ringfence money: Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org