A group of protestors with disabilities have attempted to disrupt Prime Minister’s Questions to protest against the forthcoming closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
The group of about 20 protestors – some of whom were in wheelchairs – from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were prevented from entering the Commons chamber by police.
The protest, which Commons officials told broadcasters not to film, according to the BBC, continued outside in Westminster's central lobby.
The ILF provides support and funding to some 17,000 disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. However, it closes on June 30 when the money is transferred to local authorities and devolved administrations. Legal challenges have been mounted to try and stop the government’s plan, but last December the High Court ruled that the ILF’s closure did not break equality laws and was lawful.
Critics of the closure have pointed to the fact that the funds are not ring-fenced so there will be no guarantee that the money will be used to support disabled people to live independently, or that former ILF users will receive the same levels of support, given that local authorities are facing years of further spending cuts.
The closure of the ILF only relates to England – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have decided to continue to fund their own ILFs.
In a statement on the DPAC website, which called for people to join today’s protest, the group outlined its reasons for protesting: “Disabled people have a right to live independently in the community under article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The closure of this fund is a direct breach of this right – and we must fight to defend it – and all of our rights.
“Disabled people have fought many battles over many decades for equality and inclusion and the ILF is fundamental to those ideas. Without an ILF local councils have already recognised that people will have to be institutionalised in homes in order for councils to be able to guarantee any basic level of care.
“We must resist this. We cannot allow disabled people to be imprisoned for the crimes of the bankers and the financial elites. We must stand together to end these rights abuses – and call for this decision to be repealed and the ILF re-opened to all.”
However, the government has said that the vast majority of disabled people’s care needs are already met through the social care system.