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Tuesday, 23rd Feb 2016

Mayor must ring fence independent living fund

Greens call on Mayor to ring-fence £7m of funding for the severely disabled following government U-turn.

Tony Dyer, the Green Party candidate for Mayor has today written an open letter to the Mayor calling on him to ring-fence almost £7 million of funding being released by the government to support users of the Independent Living Fund.

 The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was funded by central government and helped some 18,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently. Despite the undoubted success of the scheme, the Coalition Government closed it in 2015, instead providing non-ring-fenced funding to local councils, including Bristol, to cover the period until April 2016.

Here in Bristol, at a full council on 16th September 2014, a Green Party motion was passed calling upon the Mayor to ring-fence the ILF funding transferred to Bristol City Council. (1)

Since then, Mayor Ferguson has announced that he will not continue to provide ILF funding, citing a lack of central government funding.

However, following concerted campaigning by Deaf and Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs),

and their supporters, the Conservative government have now performed an U-turn and are now extending ILF funding to English councils for another four years.(2)

In Bristol this will equate to almost £7m of additional funding over the next four years.(3) If the money is not ring-fenced, there is a danger that the money could be used for purposes other than supporting ILF-users and even be taken out of adult social care altogether.

Green group leader, Cllr Ani Stafford-Townsend said “We are calling upon the current Mayor to commit to ring-fencing the additional funding so that it is spent for the purpose intended. Given that the government has now performed this U-turn, we see no reason for Mayor Ferguson not to take this step which is consistent with the spirit of the original Green Party motion.”

Green councillor for Ashley, Rob Telford – who proposed the original Green Party motion back in 2014 – said “It is crucial that this funding is ring-fenced in order to deliver high quality personal assistance to disabled residents in Bristol in order that they can live their lives independently. The fact that this money has been at risk is shaming to the government and the actions of disabled and non-disabled people have ensured that the government listens. Of course, the disability community should never have been put in this position in the first place."

 The Bristol Disability Equality Forum, who are strictly non-party political, are calling on all Mayoral candidates, of all Parties, to commit to ring-fencing this funding so that it can be used as intended: by Disabled people themselves to live independently as equal citizens.

In response, Tony Dyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol Mayor said "This new U-turn, coupled with the government's announcement allowing for an Adult Social Care precept, is a clear sign that even the Conservatives (at least at national level, if not locally) are becoming aware of the damage their spending cuts are doing to social care provision. The Greens have long championed the need to ring-fence ILF funding. As Mayoral candidate I am committed to ring-fencing this funding for ILF-users for the next four years, and call on my fellow candidates to make the same commitment."

Ends

Notes:

(1) http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2014/september/we-applaud-bristol-councils-ilf-vote

 (2) http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/government-agrees-four-more-years-of-ilf-transition-cash-for-councils/

 (3) Annex B of the Government's consultation provides estimates of the levels of ILF funding each local authority will receive. In Bristol's case this would be £1,781,970 in 2016/17, £1,723,291 in 2017/18, £1,668,870 in 2018/19, and £1,618,178 in 2019/20.

 Over the four year period to the end of this parliament, this amounts to £6,792,309.

 Consultation details available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/499151/Former_ILF_Recipient_Grant_Consultation.pdf

 (4) Thanks to Aaron Chown for image

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