‘Disabled people experiencing fewer opportunities for Independent Living despite Government’s 2008 commitment’ says new report
Disabled people are experiencing diminishing opportunities for independent living, according to a new report published by Disability Rights UK and national charity, In Control.
The report entitled ‘Independent Living Strategy: A review of progress’ examines the progress of the previous Government’s Independent Living Strategy- five years since it was launched by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) in 2008. At the time of publication, the strategy had received cross party support and was widely welcomed by disability charities.
The main aims of the original Independent Living Strategy were to see the following achieved by 2013:
- That disabled people requiring support, would be given greater choice and control over how they receive this support in their daily lives.
- That disabled people would be given greater access to housing, transport, health, employment and leisure opportunities and to be able to participate fully in family and community life.
The report’s overall conclusion was that there was no evidence of significant progress for disabled people’s experiences of greater control and choice. In particular it revealed:
Daily living support (personal budgets)
- There has been an increase in the number of people receiving personal budgets (strengthened by the Care Act 2014)which when implemented well, has a positive impact. However there are issues around the delivery of personal budgets by some local authorities which does not facilitate greater choice and control for recipients such as delays and restrictions on how the budget can be used.
Family and community life
- Disabled people requiring daily support felt their opportunities to participate in family and community life were diminishing. For example, the reduction in social care expenditure by local authorities is predicted to fall by a total of 33% by 2015 which means less money is available to provide support for all those who need it. This could leave those with moderate needs (but still vulnerable) without adequate support.
- People with high levels of need were at increasing risk of being institutionalised. For example, recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which enables individuals under 64 years old with high level needs to live at home, have voiced their concerns over being moved into residential care homes when the fund is abolished in 2015. More recently, a new survey from the BBC’s Disability unit revealed 80% of local authorities had no plans to ring fence ILF grants when they are transferred from the fund in 2015.
- There is no evidence that current policies are helping disabled people to get into work; for example only 5% have been helped by the work programme.
- There has been a decline (16%) in the numbers of disabled people receiving Access to Work support between 2009/10 and 2012/13.
- Disabled people were on the whole experiencing a reduction in suitable housing options.
This was recently highlighted in the recent Annual English Housing survey which revealed only 5% of homes in England are disability friendly (based the survey’s criteria).
- There has been a significant reduction in expenditure on important programmes intended to increase transport opportunities. For example funding for the Department for Transport’s ‘Access for All’ rail programme is expected to be reduced from £43 million to £25 million between 2015 and 2019.
- Although there has been a slight decrease (from 22%-25%) in the numbers of disabled people experiencing transport difficulties. However this has increased for unemployed and/or economically inactive people partly due to the cost of transport and the reduction in the value of benefits.
The review was written by Dr Jenny Morris OBE who was executive director for the original Independent Living review which formed the 2008 ODI strategy. The report authors hope this new body of evidence will serve as a reminder to the Government to honour its commitment to support disabled people to live independently.
Download the full report here.