Manchester’s disabled may be victims of benefit cuts

By Barrie White

Disabled people face another blow to the financing of their care if the government’s cuts to disability payments go through, claims the chairman of Manchester’s leading support group.

Brian Hilton represents the Great Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), which is for disabled people and only employs disabled people, and has called for the government to provide proper consultation over proposed changes to the benefits system.

He receives payment from the Independent Living Fund (ILF) which is money paid from central government direct to disabled people in order for them to live as part of their community and stay out of residential care.

However, according to the ILF website, these payments are only guaranteed until the end of the current parliament, scheduled to be in 2015.

After that, it is unknown what will happen and people who live on ILF face the prospect of moving into residential care.

Brian admitted that the prospect of losing this payment is concerning his members, particularly as they do not feel the government have made any indication of their future plans.

He said: “We’re obviously very worried.  There’s been no communication between the ILF and the users of the service. 

“There’s been no consultation by either central government or the ILF with ILF recipients about these proposals. 

“Not on the 2015 proposals.   All we’ve had is two letters – one saying that the ILF is suspended to new applications and then we had another letter saying the payments were guaranteed until 2015. 

“But only those two pieces of information.  There’s been no consultation about what the implications might be.  Partly because I don’t think the ILF have not got a definitive answer, I would think.”

Brian feels that this move to remove ILF is the latest blow to disability benefits and re-enforces a view expressed when the coalition government was formed in 2010.

“We’re painted as scroungers and living off the backs of the country but these ILF payments mean we can play an active part of the community,” he said.

“If we end up in residential care, we won’t be playing active roles in our community and it will end up costing more money. 

“We’ve been so bombarded with all government changes to disability payments.  We’re all a bit shell-shocked and these huge changes, because they’re a few years off, they’re going under the radar.”

The GMCDP and disability support group Breakthrough combined in February to produce a response to the government’s plans to cut Disability Living Allowance by 20% in last June.

Both groups feel that Manchester will be hardest hit by the cuts and that the consultation period overseen by the government was not long enough, un-cooperative or open and transparent enough.

For more details on the GMCDP and Breakthrough’s response, see here:

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