Dozens of severely disabled people in Brighton and Hove at risk of losing financial help

Posted On 26 Dec 2010 at 3:41 pm

A fund which helps dozens of people in Brighton and Hove with severe disabilities to live more independently will be wound up within five years.

The Independent Living Fund pays them about £300 a week on average but is being axed to try to save money.

The payments to the disabled can be used to fund carers for them so that they can live in their own home rather than in a care home.

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

Brighton and Hove City Council said that up to 50 people in the area receive support from the fund.

About 70 people on the books of East Sussex County Council receive help from the fund although the number is believed to be considerably higher in neighbouring West Sussex with about 360 being funded.

West Sussex County Council has been much more successful in applying for money from the fund, with its success relieving the burden on council tax payers and helped to fund work for local carers.

All of those receiving financial help will continue to receive it until the fund is closed although the last Labour government effectively closed the fund to new applicants.

Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester, a former Minister for the Disabled, criticised the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition’s decision to close the fund completely.

He said: “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.”

The Independent Living Fund supports about 21,000 people nationally and has a budget of £395 million.

Maria Miller, the coalition government’s Minister for Disabled People, said: “An independent discretionary trust delivering social care is financially unsustainable.”

She said a formal consultation would be carried out next year on how best to continue to support those currently benefiting from the fund.

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