Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 May 2011

Defend independent living rights

An Independent Living Fund user
Pensioners and elderly disabled people protesting against cuts in services outside Waltham Forest council, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

Pensioners and elderly disabled people protesting against cuts in services outside Waltham Forest council, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

In April, Elaine McDonald, a former prima ballerina with the Scottish Ballet, took her fight to maintain her dignity and stop cuts to her care package to the Supreme Court.

Her local council, the Tory-controlled London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, had reassessed Elaine following a failed application to the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2007.

Instead of continuing to fund a personal assistant to stay with Elaine during the night to assist her with the toilet - help needed following three hospital admissions after separate falls at home - the council wanted her to use an incontinence pad or sheet although she is not incontinent.

Following a Court of Appeal decision last year to refuse Elaine a judicial review of this decision (see the Socialist, issue 646), the overnight element of her care package was finally withdrawn.

Legal arguments in support of Elaine's human rights and the discriminatory nature of the council's decision have so far failed.

While there is a statutory duty, under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, on local authorities to provide or arrange services where someone has an assessed need, legal judgments in the 1990s weakened it considerably and it is now to be replaced with even weaker 'legal principles'.

Many of us who rely on personal assistance are following Elaine's case with a sense of dread. We fear a return to the days when funding for personal assistance was not available and the choice was residential care, reliance on family or volunteers or an unforgiving existence on one's own.

Few people remember that before the ILF (which supports 21,000 people) was set-up in 1988, funding of large care packages only existed for a small number. Sometimes people had a few hours of homecare support or access to a day centre, but it was insufficient to lead a full social, working or family life.

Pensioners and elderly disabled people protesting against cuts in services outside Waltham Forest council, photo Paul Mattsson

Pensioners and elderly disabled people protesting against cuts in services outside Waltham Forest council, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

With the ILF's imminent closure, it is nave to believe that in the 'age of austerity' local authorities will maintain current levels of funding for our care packages.

Elaine's case has arisen precisely because her council is applying a financial 'cap'. This practice is unfortunately common, and is applied mostly to older disabled people when they are shunted into residential care rather than being supported in their own home.

Many disabled activists place faith in the human rights act and anti-discrimination legislation to protect their rights. The High Court decision in April, that it is unlawful for Birmingham council to raise its eligibility criteria from substantial to critical because it had failed during its decision-making process to consider properly the impact on service users, may reinforce this view.

This decision will offer short respite for 4,100 Birmingham residents who were set to lose all their social services.

To support Elaine's and others' dignity and rights permanently, a Supreme Court decision will have to be prepared to make a ruling that reverses the current neoliberal dismantling of social care and local services.

But rather than rely on judges who defend the interests of the rich, the disabled people's movement needs to mobilise and coordinate with the trade unions and anti-cuts campaigns now to publicly support Elaine McDonald, defend our right to live in the community with full support, stop the closure of the ILF, and demand the extra billions needed by councils to meet the needs of all disabled people and family carers.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 11 May 2011:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fight for the NHS

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

PCS conference: prepare for united action on 30 June

Crucial time for Saltend dispute

Defending trade unionism on London Underground

Poverty minimum wage

Library cuts hit staff and users: time for action against the cuts

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Students

Students occupy against cuts at London Met

For sale: university places

Socialist Party election analysis

Government Con-Demned at ballot box

TUSC shows alternative to Con-Dem and Labour cuts

Labour wins Welsh Assembly election -

SNP landslide but it will be a government of savage cuts

Socialist Party news and analysis

Defend independent living rights

Con-Dems put squeeze on democratic rights

Bahrain repression: Muted criticism of West's ally

Suffolk Tories in retreat?

News in brief

International socialist news and analysis

UN report on Sri Lanka war crimes

Socialist Party reviews

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Review: Panorama on housing: The human impact of the crisis


Home   |   The Socialist 11 May 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleHomes for All - Not billionaire profit!

trianglePassing the council cuts test

triangleHated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!

triangleLeicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy

triangleCampaigners continue to demand Chorley A&E is fully reopened


triangleWaltham Forest Universal Credit protest

triangleChatsworth ward campaign replies to Tory MP's intervention

triangleUN slams Tories for disabled rights ruin


triangleInternational Women's Day

triangleWomen's oppression: the struggle goes on

triangleCapitalism oppresses women - fight for socialism!


triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: France in May 1968

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: Japan - Stagnation and Military Tensions

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Homes for All - Not billionaire profit!



School strikes against academy management



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018