Agenda Item No 4
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 13th April, 2015
Report of the Director of Social Services
Arrangements for transferring the Independent Living Fund from the UK Government to the Welsh Government
Purpose of the Report
1. To provide Scrutiny Committee with an update on the actions being taken to support people in the Vale of Glamorgan who use the Independent Living Fund (ILF) when responsibility for the scheme transfers from the UK Government to the Welsh Government in June 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 (ILF) 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 was a legal challenge to the decision and the transfer was stopped. This was subsequently overturned and the UK Government restarted the transfer process in March 2014
4. Welsh Government undertook a consultation process between October 2014 and March 2015. It then decided to facilitate a grant scheme, administered by local authorities, to pay existing ILF recipients their current level of funding. This approach was influenced by the need for arrangements to be put in place by 30th June of this year and the short term nature of the current funding offer from the UK Government. The grant scheme will run from July 2015 until the end of March 2017. Funding of £20.4m has been confirmed for the period July 2015 to end of March 2016. This is based on the number of people who will be receiving ILF when the current scheme closes on 30th June. Funding beyond this date is subject to the next Spending Round.
5. As at January 2015, there were 1,648 ILF users in Wales. The number of people known to be using ILF in the Vale of Glamorgan is 39, as at June 2014.
6. Information about the transfer review programme has been sent to all ILF users. Most recently, this has included a letter from Welsh Government regarding the outcome of the consultation. Each local authority has nominated a contact officer for this purpose; in the Vale of Glamorgan, it is the Head of Adult Services.
7. Individual reviews have been carried out jointly by an ILF independent assessor and a local authority officer. This has been a difficult process given that there was no clear decision at the time about the future of the fund in Wales. Adult Services are already very much involved in reviewing ILF packages because the eligibility criteria for the scheme require most users to be in receipt of a certain level of local authority support.
Relevant Issues and Options
8. The Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru has participated in a stakeholder group, along with the Welsh Local Government Association, representatives from third sector disability organisations, service users and local authority contact officers. Welsh Government are developing a project plan to support the transfer.
9. In the Vale of Glamorgan, a project group has been restarted 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)
10. The financial implications for the Council are still not clear as the terms of the grant have not been issued and the consequences for each individual case will need to be calculated thereafter.
11. The Vale of Glamorgan has lower than expected numbers of people currently in receipt of the fund compared to Welsh averages and the grant allocation is likely to reflect this.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
12. There are no sustainability and climate change implications as a result of this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
13. The legal implications will need to be considered prior to implementation of the fund, once the Welsh Government has clarified the grant arrangements.
Crime and Disorder Implications
14. There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
15. The transfer of the fund has a direct impact on the lives of 39 people with disabilities in the Vale of Glamorgan but it is not possible at this stage to determine the full implications for them and others in a similar position. The use of grant funding to maintain historic allocation without access for new users has the potential to create equal opportunity shortfalls. Prior to implementation, consideration will need to be given to the Local Authority's duties under the Equality Act.
16. To ensure that people using Social Services are supported by assessments, care and support plans which are regularly reviewed.
17. 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
18. This is a matter for Executive decision.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
19. There are no matters in this report which relate specifically to an individual Ward.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
20. Social Care and Health.
Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health), 7th October 2013: Arrangements for transferring the Independent Living Fund in April 2015
Lance Carver, Head of Adult Services and Locality Manager
Jane Williams, Practitioner Manager
Linda Woodley, Team Manager
Philip Evans, Director of Social Services