By Roz Scott
Forty disabled people may no longer be able to live in their own homes as a result of funding changes.
The 40 people have some of the most complex needs with tailored care packages paid for from the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
The stark warning about their future was spelt out to members of Brighton and Hove City Council last night (Thursday 16 July).
They were lobbied on their way into the meeting at Brighton Town Hall in advance of a debate about the closure of the fund.
The Fed Centre for Independent Living was among those spelling out concerns.
The national fund was ended a few weeks ago and the government is passing on almost £500,000 to the council to pay for future care needs.
Green and Labour councillors proposed motions to the meeting of the full council yesterday to reinstate or ringfence the money. But neither motion was agreed.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who proposed the Green motion, said: “We are extremely disappointed that Labour have chosen not to support our motion and, in so doing, are prepared to create uncertainty for the most severely disabled people in the community.
“Without the funding ringfenced we are essentially saying that the independence and the dignity of our disabled residents doesn’t matter because they can join the scramble in the race to the bottom for whatever is left over.
“We say very clearly that that shouldn’t happen.
“For what I estimate to be in the range of £2 million pounds for the next four years we could provide hope for people being dragged to hell and back by the changes being imposed on them.
“Figures from Scope tell us that some 70 per cent of disabled people, due to losing care and support services, were sometimes unable to wash, dress or eat.
“In the sixth richest country in the world why should our own residents have to live like this?
“Are some of our most disadvantaged residents not worth the dignity that you or I possibly take for granted to eat, drink, go to the toilet, to learn, to have a social life?
“At this moment in time, the cuts mean some of these very things will be thrown to the wayside.”
Councillor Les Hamilton proposed a Labour motion asking for the Independent Living Fund to be permanently reinstated and linked to inflation.
Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said that there would be no 5 per cent cut by Brighton and Hove councillors.
Labour councillor Karen Barford said: “No change is easy, especially no two-tier approach. Forty people in the city now face different assessment criteria because of the closure of the Independent Living Fund.”
Green councillor Dick Page said: “People’s lives are not primarily about money and should not be determined by budgets.”
One of Councillor Page’s constituents approached him and said that since he had lost his live-in carer, he had become a prisoner in his own home and had no quality of life.
The Green Party would like to see a standalone fund in Brighton and Hove. Instead the money is expected to be treated as part of the council’s general fund.
Labour and Green councillors may now lobby the Local Government Association to try to prevent further cuts to the Independent Living Fund both in Brighton and Hove and nationally.