LEGAL EAGLE: Worry over disability funding

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My husband is severely disabled and currently receives funding from the Independent Living Fund. This funding will cease on June 30, 2015. We are told that the local authority may not fund the same level of care. Is this correct and is there anything we can do about it?

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) is a discretionary scheme funded by the government to support disabled people with high-level needs to live independently in the community.

 The fund has been closed to new applicants for some time and from June 30, 2015 ILF funding for existing users will cease.

 From July 1, 2015 responsibility for your husband’s care and support will pass to your local authority. The Government has divided the ILF’s budget between local authorities, however, this funding will not be ring fenced.

 Many people are concerned that their funding will reduce as a result of transition to the local authority.

 This is because eligibility for support from the local authority is determined by different criteria.

 In addition there is concern that some services, such as extra cleaning and social activities, may not be funded by the local authority.

 However, the local authority has a duty, under the Care Act 2014, where:

The adult’s needs arise from or are related to a physical or mental impairment or illness; as a result of the adult’s needs the adult is unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes (e.g. maintaining nutrition, personal hygiene, family or personal relationships, or making use of necessary facilities in the local community); and as a consequence there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on the adult’s well-being.

 The local authority may reduce the level of funding your husband receives if it can meet his needs more cost effectively.

 However, the alternative must be genuinely capable of meeting his needs. If it is not the decision to reduce funding may open to challenge in the courts. Equally the local authority should not operate a blanket policy of refusing to fund specific services e.g. cleaning.

 In order to determine the level support your husband will receive from July 1, 2015 the local authority must carry out an assessment of his needs.

 It is important that the assessor has as much detail as possible about his needs and the consequences if they are not met e.g. social isolation, pressure sores etc.

 If you have not yet been contacted by the local authority to advise of arrangements for your social care from July 1, 2015 you should contact them.