Anne takes on Government
A disabled rights campaigner is preparing for one of her toughest fights as she takes on the Government in court.
Anne Pridmore will be one of six disabled people from across England challenging the decision to scrap the independent living fund (ILF).
Like thousands of people, Anne, 73, who has cerebral palsy, gets about half of her benefits directly from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) through the ILF.
The cash can be used for such things as hiring an assistant and getting laundry and shopping done – which are not provided by councils through social services care packages.
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The fund has already closed to new members and, from 2015, the money will go to councils instead.
It will not be ring-fenced, meaning local authorities can do what they want with it.
Anne, of Market Harborough, said she feared many disabled people would have to rely on relatives or charities in order to continue living independently. Her challenge will be heard at the High Court in London over two days from March 13.
Anne, who has been campaigning for disabled people's rights for 27 years, said: "The Government always attacks the weakest members of society. There are about 18,500 people who are at risk of losing their funding and it's a big step backwards.
"This Government has set back disabled rights 25 years since it has been in power, with people being taken off incapacity benefits and now this.
"It's undoing all the work I've been doing.
"I think this fight is going to be a hard one."
Anne said while she felt too old to be taking a Government department to court, she was doing it on behalf of younger people with disabilities who could benefit from the ILF in the future.
The six disabled people will ask the courts to declare that the public consultation held last year was unlawful and that the department had failed to explain why the only option it offered in its consultation was to close the fund.
They will also argue the Government breached the Equality Act by failing to assess the impact of the closure on disabled people.
The case follows a series of judicial reviews of other decisions by Government departments and public bodies to cut services and spending due to the coalition's deficit reduction plan.
A DWP spokesman said: "We acknowledge the action being taken in relation to the recent consultation on the future of the independent living fund by some of its users.
"The department will follow the correct procedure and respond in due course."