Brighton and Hove to find it harder to fund people with learning disabilities

Posted On 02 May 2010 at 11:10 pm

People who have learning difficulties will find it harder to claim a benefit helping them to lead an independent life under rule changes that came into effect yesterday.

Brighton and Hove City Council currently funds almost 50 people who need round-the-clock care with support from the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

This compares with 70 people being helped by East Sussex County Council and 340 by West Sussex County Council.

The rule change means that those needing help should normally be in paid employment or self-employed for at least 16 hours a week.

The recipients of support from the ILF can use the money to pay for things such as help with eating, drinking, cooking, physical movement, dressing and washing themselves.

The likelihood of such people being able to work for 16 hours a week means that the fund is closed to almost all those most likely to benefit from it.

While councils such as West Sussex have been successful in helping large numbers of those most in need, the chances of Brighton and Hove helping a greater number of people have effectively been ended.

Those who benefit from the fund are usually in receipt of disability living allowance and qualify for the higher rate of the care component, that is, they are in the greatest need of financial support. Their needs exclude paying for lighting, heating and other utility bills.

A social worker living in Brighton and Hove said: “This change is effectively closing the door on people with learning disabilities.”

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