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Friday, March 13, 2015

AM calls for end of uncertainty over disabled funding

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Welsh Government to end the "uncertainty" for the thousands of disabled people and their carers who are anxiously waiting to hear whether funding will be available to enable them to continue to live independently.  

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) delivers financial support to disabled people so they can choose to live in their communities rather than in residential care.
 
Speaking in the Assembly Chamber this week, Mr Isherwood (pictured) said there is real concern among disabled groups that the Welsh Government are not proposing to ring fence ILF.
 
Calling for a Welsh Government Statement on the matter, Mr Isherwood said: “I call for an update on Welsh Government’s intentions for the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The Minister will be aware that, after the responsibility and funding was transferred from the UK Treasury to the Welsh Government for this, supporting disabled people to live independently, disabled groups expressed concern that the Welsh Government was not proposing to ring-fence the fund.
 
“Well, we’re now into March, with less than four months to the final closure of the existing funding on 30 June, and we’re still awaiting a decision following the consultation that ended before Christmas, I understand, which leaves very little time for new arrangements to be put in place. Therefore, there are many anxious existing ILF recipients and carers, fearful about their future ability to continue living independently.
 
“Concerns have been exacerbated by rumours, which may be no more than that, that Welsh Government will delay a decision for 12 months, which, if the case, it’s hard to imagine anything other than the funds being transferred to local authorities against the opposition of recipients, carers, the Wales Alliance for Citizen Directed Support, Disability Wales and other third sector organisations.
 
“I understand that some local authorities, certainly in North Wales, are writing to people regarding their final care plan from the ILF, telling them that, for funding after June, they should contact the local authority social services department, and giving a named person to contact, who’s already left.”
 
Mr Isherwood claims the Minister for Government Business, Jane Hutt AM, failed to address the points he raised and instead laid blame with the UK Government.
  
Mr Isherwood added: “This had been raised with me as Co-Chair of the Cross Party Group on Disability as a matter of serious concern to disabled people and their carers. I’m disgusted that this Minister chose to score cheap political points rather than address this.
 
“As the Scottish Government stated, current funding for this support to disabled people has been transferred from the UK Treasury to them, but this Labour Welsh Government won’t admit that the same applies in Wales. This was transferred to the devolved administrations so they can decide how  ILF users in their nations will be supported. Scotland has appointed a full time ILF Business Manager and embedded a project assistant within ‘Inclusion Scotland’, Disability Wales’ sister body.
 
“It is simply not acceptable that disabled people in Wales are being left in the dark as the closure of the existing scheme fast approaches.” 

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