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Independent living fund abolition unlawful, appeal court rules

6 November 2013

The UK Government acted unlawfully in abolishing the Independent Living Fund (ILF), Court of Appeal judges ruled today.

Allowing an appeal from a High Court decision in April, Lords Justices Elias, Kitchin and McCombe ruled that the consultation preceding the decision was flawed.

The ILF provides support to nearly 19,000 severely disabled people across the UK, helping them to live independent lives in the community, but was closed to new applicants in 2010. Five claimants challenged the decision, announced last December, to discontinue it. The Government intended that local authorities would take over funding such support.

Lord Justice McCombe said the evidence on which the decision had been based did not give "an adequate flavour of the responses received indicating that independent living might well be put seriously in peril for a large number of people".

Yesterday the Government survived a High Court challenge by single parent families contesting the recently introduced "benefit cap".

Three single mothers brought the case on human rights and equality grounds, arguing that the Secretary of State had failed to comply with the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and they would suffer “harsh consequences” as a result.

Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Bean held that it could not be said that the scheme was “so manifestly unfair or disproportionate" as to justify an interference by the courts. The circumstances fell “well short” of demonstrating a breach of article 8 of the Convention, the right to private and family life.

They added that even if the cap gave rise to a breach in any particular case, that would not of itself invalidate the scheme.

On a further argument based ion irrationality, Lord Justice Elias said it was not for the court to exercise its common law powers to interfere with Government decisions as to how it would allocate public funds, "save very exceptionally where the method of allocation infringes some basic human right".

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