Agenda Item No 9
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 7th October, 2013
Report of the Director of Social Services
Arrangement for transferring the Independent Living Fund in April 2015
Purpose of the Report
1. To provide Scrutiny Committee with an update on the actions being taken to support users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in the Vale of Glamorgan, when responsibility for the scheme transfers from the UK Government to the Welsh Government in April 2015.
1. That Scrutiny Committee notes the content of the report.
Reason for the Recommendation
1. To ensure effective oversight of proposed arrangements for transferring responsibility for the Independent Living Fund.
2. The Independent Living Fund is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions; it operates currently on a UK-wide basis. The fund was established in 1988 to provide discretionary payments for disabled people, to enable them to live in their communities rather than in residential care. In 1993, additional eligibility rules for new users were introduced, requiring social services to make a weekly contribution to the support package of ILF users. The fund closed to new applicants in 2010.
3. In December 2012, following a public consultation, the UK Government decided to close the fund completely from April 2015 and to transfer funding and responsibility for supporting ILF users to local authorities in England and to the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland. There are currently 1,775 ILF users in Wales and, at April 2013, total annual payments amounted to approximately £31 million. The number of users in the Vale of Glamorgan is 45, as at April, 2013.
4. Since the decision to close the fund was announced, officials from the ILF have undertaken an extensive programme of engagement with users, organisations that support disabled people and carers, local authorities in Wales and Welsh Government officials. This is intended to ensure that everyone is aware of the UK Government's decision and to develop a transfer review programme. Information about the transfer review programme has been sent to all ILF users. Each local authority has nominated a contact officer for this purpose; in the Vale of Glamorgan, it is the Head of Adult Services.
5. The transfer review programme began in April 2013 and it must be completed by 31st March 2015, when the ILF will close. It is intended that the reviews will be carried out jointly by an ILF independent assessor and a local authority officer. There will be an opportunity for every user to discuss their support requirements up to 31st March, 2015, the outcomes they want to achieve and any concerns they may have about the transfer. The review process has already started in the Vale of Glamorgan.
6. Although there has been no decision as yet about the role of local authorities in supporting ILF users beyond 31st March 2015 in Wales, it is appropriate for them to take part in the transfer review process given their statutory responsibility for ensuring that the needs of disabled people in their local areas are assessed and met. In most cases, Adult Services are already involved in reviewing ILF packages as the eligibility criteria for the scheme require most users to be in receipt of a certain level of local authority support. The transfer review programme should provide a detailed picture of each user's care and support needs, which can be used to ensure that these are met whatever new arrangements are put in place in Wales from April 2015.
Relevant Issues and Options
7. Work has begun on developing options for the new arrangements for supporting ILF users in Wales from April 2015. The Deputy Minister for Social Services has agreed that the following broad options should be developed further, in consultation with stakeholders:
· Option 1 Set up a successor body to support ILF users in Wales.
· Option 2 Transferring funding and responsibility to local authorities via the Revenue Support Grant.
· Option 3 Transferring funding and responsibility to local authorities via a special grant with terms and conditions set by Welsh Government.
8. A national ILF Stakeholder Group will be established shortly to examine each option further and to consider whether there are any other options which may have merit. The Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru will be invited to join the group, along with the Welsh Local Government Association, representatives from third sector disability organisations, service users and local authority contact officers.
9. Welsh Government intends to develop a consultation document setting out the range of options for the new arrangements, with details on how each would work in practice. It will also include plans for the transitional arrangements which would need to be put in place to ensure the smooth transfer of support for users. It is intended that a public consultation will be launched during the summer and a decision on the new arrangements announced by the end of 2013.
10. On 7th May, the ILF, the Association of Adult Social Services in England and the Local Government Association published a joint Code of Practice to support the effective delivery of the transfer review programme. It sets out ten key principles, which support partnership working between the ILF and local authorities in England. Although there has been no decision as yet about the future arrangements in Wales for supporting current ILF users, consideration will be given to the development of a Code of Practice for Wales.
11. In the Vale of Glamorgan, a project group has been developed in Adult Services to ensure that key stakeholders are kept informed about the changes and that measures are in place to enable a smooth transfer of the fund.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
12. The financial implications for the Council will depend in part upon the decision which the Welsh Government makes about how the fund is transferred and allocated, choosing between the options set out in paragraph 7.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
13. There are no sustainability and climate change implications as a result of this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
14. At this stage the Deputy Minister has indicated that the broad options set out above should be developed further in consultation with stake holders. The legal implications will need to be considered prior to implementation of any such proposals.
Crime and Disorder Implications
15. There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
16. The transfer of the fund has a direct impact on the lives of 45 people with disabilities in the Vale of Glamorgan but it is not possible at this stage to determine the full implications for them. No other equal opportunity implications are anticipated. Prior to implication of any proposals, consideration will need to be given to the Local Authority's duties under the Equality Act.
17. To ensure that people using Social Services are supported by assessments, care and support plans which are regularly reviewed.
18. To ensure that people are helped to achieve the best possible outcome for them, maximising their independence, developing their abilities and overcoming barriers to social inclusion.
Policy Framework and Budget
19. This is a matter for Executive decision.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
20. There are no matters in this report which relate specifically to an individual Ward.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
21. Social Care and Health.
Lance Carver, Head of Adult Services and Locality Manager
Jane Williams, Practitioner Manager
Philip Evans, Director of Social Services