Tuesday, 11 March 2014

What did the ILF ever do for me?

The government is using a quite disingenuous argument that continuing with ILF somehow creates a two-tier stream of state care and support. It also argues against the cost of having to administer two different levels of care; and by placing all social care under one authority it would save on administration.

As a recipient of ILF I can testify to the benefits this scheme affords. My local authority has assessed me for social care and support that meets the needs of my personal care, including cooking and some shopping – around an hour for the weekly shop. In addition to this I receive funding for laundry, my condition calls for washing and drying of bed linen and clothes on a daily basis; and I get some a small amount of time for domestic care – housework.

The local authority care package is an essential part of my day-to-day living. Without this means of support my most basic needs, bathing, toileting, cooking, shopping, etc would go undone.

There is more to life than being kept clean, wearing fresh clothes and well fed while living in a nice clean environment. Just as women in struggle have called for ‘Bread for all, but roses too…’, disabled people demand the right to care and support over and above that necessary just to keep us functioning.

With ILF money I can pay PAs to assist me outside of the home. Going swimming can be done on my terms, not me being beholden to friends or family. Similarly I can choose to visit art galleries when I wish to do so. My disability campaigning is not hindered because I’ve nobody to drive me to an event.

ILF goes some way in levelling the playing field.

Without this funding many thousands of disabled people will find it impossible to hold down jobs. A for instance is the length of time local authorities give for support for a morning slot. Invariably the time allocated falls far short of that actually needed to properly support someone’s full care needs.

The work I do, which has me meeting with the public on a daily basis, calls for a certain degree of grooming and smartness. My current local authority time slot, an hour, for a PA to assist me with getting out of bed, toileting, showering, drying and observing areas such as feet, dressing, ironing my clothing, preparing breakfast, drying and cleaning the wet room, and clearing away after my breakfast does not cover these activities.

Without ILF to make up the shortfall I would find it impossible to get ready for work – remember Access to Work only covers the recipient from front door to work and back again.

But even if I did manage to get into work. My life would become a cycle of work to home to bed to work to home to bed with no funding to support any kind of social life. Actually, I’d be one of the more fortunate people as, provided I retain council funding, I’d be going to work and interacting with other people that way.
What of the thousands of disabled ILF users who either can’t get into employment or maybe are unable to work. For many of these people the prospect of social exclusion is a likely outcome. Loneliness will feature high in people’s futures. Some will be forced into residential care.

Over the past few decades disabled people have felt, albeit slowly, inch by achingly inch, a sense of moving forwards. DLA was a recognition of the extra costs met by disabled people in their day-to-day living.
Self-directed support a means to enhance individual’s independence was introduced – sure, it has its bad points.

In 1995 the DDA came into being. Toothless at first. However, Labour gave it a bit of a bite when it set up the Disability Rights Commission in 1998.

As a result more disabled people gained employment. And schemes such as Access to Work have proved a lifeline to thousands of disabled workers – sadly the LibDems are even making cuts here.

Improvements to public transport were coming on line; as well as the Motability car scheme that widened the world for hundreds of thousands of us.   

Yet in four short years we are witnessing a terrible reversal of the gains made in the past thirty or so years. The progress we experienced took countless disabled people from the shadows of exclusion into the sunny neighbourhood of social inclusion. This government is building more walls and barriers that will push us out of the sunshine back into the shadows.

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