Disappointment as funding cuts hit disabled people

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Disappointment as funding cuts hit disabled people

17th December 2010

The Government's latest cost-cutting move will affect thousands of disabled people in the UK, according to a lawyer specialising in serious injury cases.

Jonathan Fogerty, who was himself spinally injured as a teenager, said it was with a "sad inevitability" that the focus of Government cuts had now turned to funding for disabled people's care, namely the Disability Living Allowance and Independent Living Fund.

"The Government recently launched a consultation on proposals to reform DLA, renaming it Personal Independence Payments, or PIPs," said Jonathan, of Fentons Solicitors LLP. "A period of consultation is now underway, and there are a number of questions that remain to be answered."

Jonathan, who was recently elected to the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) Board of Trustees, said that one issue arising from the proposed DLA reform was eligibility of individuals who were spinally injured following an accident.

"In order to qualify for PIPs, a disabled person must already have been affected by their condition for six months, and expect it to continue for a further six months," he said. "This could have obvious and serious connotations for those who become Spinal Cord Injured and are discharged into the community with less than six month's rehabilitation. The Spinal Injuries Association is already seeking clarification on this issue, and it is vital that lobbyists work to ensure those with spinal cord injuries are fully covered by this benefit on returning to the community after rehab."

The consultation closes on 14 February 2011. For further information, visit the SIA website at www.spinal.co.uk/news/dla-reform

The Government has also announced plans to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF). "The ILF is the body which gives financial support to disabled people and helps advance standards of independent living," said Jonathan. "Working in partnership with local authorities across the UK, the ILF helps to jointly fund individually tailored care and support packages for disabled people, and provides close ongoing support to individuals."

The ILF closed for new applicants earlier this year and, following the latest announcement, will now be closed to new applicants permanently. The move has been blasted by Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester, who in an interview with the BBC described it as "foolhardy and lacking in humanity."

Lord Morris, who was the first minister for the disabled, is quoted as saying: "This will not save money. If you make it harder for disabled people to live at home, it will cost more because more of them will have to be in hospitals and other places of full-time care. It will mean far more of them having to be in institutional care at far greater cost to the taxpayer."

Agreeing with Lord Morris's comments, Jonathan said he was looking forward to the consultation opening next year, so that the future of the payments for those who currently receive them could be discussed.

"At the moment we know worryingly little about what - if any - plans there are to replace the ILF," said Jonathan, "and it is hugely important that we hear those proposals as soon as possible."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to serious injury including spinal cord injuries.

If you require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Read more at: BBC, Guardian, SIA