Campaigners occupy grounds of Westminster Abbey to protest against closure of ILF

Users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), along with members of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), UK Uncut and Occupy London, have set up a protest camp in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

Disabled activists chained themselves to the gates while the camp was being set up.

The ILF was originally set up in 1988 as a national resource to fund support for disabled people with high support needs, enabling them to live in the community rather than move into residential care. It allowed them to be active in society – in education and employment, as volunteers and trustees, as employers, and as carers for family and friends.

According to Independent Living Fightback, “Currently 17,500 disabled people with the highest levels of need receive essential support through the ILF enabling them to enjoy fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities. The closure of the fund will have a devastating impact on the lives of these individuals and their families. It also has a much wider significance that affects all of us because at the heart of this issue is the fundamental question of disabled people’s place in society: do we want a society that keeps its disabled citizens out of sight, prisoners in their own homes or locked away in institutions, surviving not living or do we want a society that enables disabled people to participate, contribute and enjoy the opportunities, choice and control that non disabled people take for granted?”

“In December 2010 the Government announced the closure of the ILF to new applicants, and in December 2012 following a consultation on the future of the Fund that disabled people claim was inaccessible and carried out in bad faith, it was announced that the Fund would be closed permanently from April 2015. The Government claimed that Local Authorities could meet the same outcomes as the ILF and proposed transfer for existing ILF recipients to their Local Authorities.

“A group of ILF users successfully challenged the decision to close the fund and The Court of Appeal ruled in November 2013 that the closure decision had breached the public sector equality duty because the Minister had not been given adequate information to be able to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users and their ability to live independently.

“However, on 6th March 2014 the Minister for Disabled People announced his intention to press ahead with the closure of the Independent Living Fund on 30 June 2015. A fresh legal challenge by ILF recipients was issued last week on the same basis as the first that once again the Minister had not discharged the public sector equality duty because he did not have adequate information to be able to properly understand what the impact of closure would be on the people affected.

“Transition funding will not be ring fenced for social care once it is transferred to local authorities, and so even within 2015-2016 there will be no guarantee that this money will be spent on supporting disabled people to live independently rather than absorbed into the broader council budget.

“ILF recipients will only be eligible for continued social care support from their local authority if they meet… criteria. The new Government’s intention to set the new national eligibility threshold at ‘substantial’ means that many simply will not receive any replacement support from their local authority once the ILF closes.”


UK Uncut activist ‘Lucy’ has blogged her reasons for joining the protest.

“For me this is personal,” she writes. “I grew up with narratives handed down to me by my family of visceral poverty. My granddad, one of 12, described siblings dying from treatable illnesses; of the ever-present shame and fear of the workhouse; of fear of not having enough to eat, or of being warm enough or of knowing where they would sleep. When he died in 2009 he had paid for his own funeral, the avoidance of what was for him a final shame – the paupers grave.

“In his lifetime those fears were replaced with rights – the right to housing, the right to support in old age, the right to support for those who were unwell, the right to support if there was no work, rights to equal access. However imperfect these were rights nonetheless.


“Today I take action because I believe that those rights have been eroded and because I do not accept the government’s claim that there is no money to fund vital public services.

“I act because I am angry that corporations like Boots are enabled by our government to avoid paying taxes, while disabled people are told that they do not have the right to make decisions about their own care.

“I act because I am furious that citizenship has become tied to wealth and not to fundamental rights. I am angry that we are told that the cuts are about creating choice in a market: because what kind of choice is being a prisoner at home or in residential care?”

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  1. amnesiaclinic June 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Very, very moving. Thoroughly disgusted by the heavy-handed inappropriate police handling. Yes, they are a force and unfortunately not for the good.

    All power to them and I wish them luck.

    Brilliant and shame on the government for wanting to shut people away again.

  2. amnesiaclinic June 29, 2014 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    Please watch the video and read Lucy’s heart-rending story. We are steaming back to the victorian era under this sleazy government.

  3. sdbast June 29, 2014 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  4. Jeffrey Davies June 30, 2014 at 6:35 am - Reply

    oh the dean proper Christian wasn’t he perhaps all that that old nicks supplied to them he didn’t want it shared but shamefully a vicar who cant see that his flock is being attacked by the wolves isn’t a shame when a Christian closes the door in your face jeff3

  5. jaypot2012 June 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    The Met Police are nothing but heavy handed bullies and should be ashamed of themselves for going against such vulnerable people!
    The Dean of Westminster has shown just how a Christian acts towards his fellow men, and those who suffer the most!
    The bravest people are those who attended and tried so hard to build a camp, their supporters and carers.
    The biggest cowards are, of course, the police and the Dean.
    Yet again this wasn’t reported on the BBC or in most of the newspapers – letters should be pouring in about the lack of coverage just like last weeks huge demonstration about austerity.

  6. jaypot2012 June 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    Such great compassion from the Dean and his little band of merry men…

  7. Tony Dean June 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I don’t expect this will be on the BBC either:-

    UK police attack disabled, elderly protesters

    British police have used kettling tactics against the disabled and elderly campaigners who were protesting the government’s removal of travel concessions for vulnerable people.

    According to reports, the demonstration at Sheffield railway station on Monday turned violent when transport policemen arrested at least two men.

    George Arthur, 64, and Tony Nuttall, 66, have been charged with obstructing police and travelling without paying on a train from Barnsley to Sheffield city center.

    A blind woman was hospitalized during the protest after being injured. Another man was also taken to hospital.

    Nuttall, of the Barnsley Retirees Action Group, said five officers grabbed hold of him from behind, marched him back and forth with his head bowed down and took him to a police station while handcuffed.

    “This sort of thuggish behavior is not acceptable, especially when used against older and disabled people who cannot defend themselves,” Nuttall said. “It was a cowardly attack.”

    People using walking sticks or in wheelchairs took part in the demonstration to demand the return of free rail travel on public transport. The old rail service scheme was axed in March as part of measures to make up for budget shortfall in the face of the UK austerity program.

    The protest is the latest in a series of the so-called Freedom Rides, named after the US civil rights actions.

    The campaigners say they will continue their protests, particularly now that they have been exposed to police brutality.

  8. Tony Dean June 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    That appears to be the same one.

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