High Court fight for disabled fund

Disabled rights campaigner Anne Pridmore, from Market Harborough, is challenging in the High Court the Government decision to scrap the Independent Living Fund.
Disabled rights campaigner Anne Pridmore, from Market Harborough, is challenging in the High Court the Government decision to scrap the Independent Living Fund.

A campaigner who fights for the rights of disabled people is challenging the Government’s decision to scrap the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Anne Pridmore is one of a group of 10 disabled people taking on the Government in the High Court next month.

Anne, of East Street, Harborough, receives about half of her benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions through the ILF.

The fund works by giving disabled people money which can be used to hire an assistant or extra care to allow them to lead independent lives.

But the Government decided to close it to new members in 2010 and, following a consultation last year, decided to scrap it completely by 2015.

The money will be given directly to local authorities instead, but will not be ring-fenced, leaving campaigners fearing cash-strapped councils will decide to spend it elsewhere.

Anne said this will leave the 18,500 people who benefit from the fund left having to rely on relative or charity in order to continue living independently.

Anne (73) and her fellow campaigners believe the consultation held last year ahead of the Government’s decision over the ILF was unfair because it pre-supposed the fund would be scrapped.

The group’s challenge over the consultation will be heard in London’s High Court on March 13. If that is successful the group will challenge the decision itself.

The consultation will also have to be held again, the Harborough pensioner said.

Anne has campaigned for disabled people’s rights for more than 25 years.

She told the Mail: “We’re challenging the consultation because we don’t think it was done in the right manner.

“Local authority budgets have been cut and because the money will not be ring-fenced we fear they will force people who are living independently into residential care.

“I’m a wheelchair user and I need support with most of the things I do in the day.

“If the funding is cut people will not get the support when they need it.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We acknowledge the action being taken in relation to the recent consultation on the future of the independent living fund by some of its users.

“The department will follow the correct procedure and respond in due course.”