Fight for freedom
Reporter: MARINA BERRY
Date online: 28 May 2014
A FATHER of two disabled sons is spearheading a local campaign to prevent the Government ditching the Independent Living Allowance.
Shaun Nuttall is a member of a group of Oldham carers fighting to keep the payment, which they say gives independence to severely disabled people.
“It gives them freedom. If it is taken away they will be prisoners in their own homes. They will have no choice in the care they receive,” he said.
Oldham led the way when the ILA was introduced in the 1980s. Disabled people were given a budget to pay for the help they needed, enabling them to “buy” a tailor-made package. Now the Government is threatening to axe ILA and instead give the money to local councils to provide services.
The battling group, “People for Positive Change,” wants Chronicle readers to sign an online petition to support their fight and the independence it stands for.
Mr Nuttall has two sons who receive ILA, and knows first-hand how vital it is in helping them to stay as independent as possible.
His youngest son, also Shaun (28), suffered a brain virus when he was four, which halted brain development and left him paralysed on one side. He can’t be left alone.
His other son, Stephen (31), was left severely disabled after breaking his neck in a road accident when he was 18. He is a keen cyclist and the ILA gives him the independence to follow his hobby.
Mr Nuttall explained: “They both have independent carers each day, paid for from the ILA, who take them out to do what they want to do. Stephen loves his bike riding and Shaun needs to be entertained.”
Mr Nuttall and his wife Carolyn work to run the family home in Johnson Avenue, Moorside. Losing the ILA would force them both out of work to look after their sons.
The brothers are two of 193 Oldhamers who claim £3.3million in ILA each year. Nationally, 19,000 people claim the allowance. Each person receives an amount according to need.
Mr Nuttall said the changes to the allowance would not offer the same benefits to recipients. Councils would be given the money rather than individuals, but the cash would not be allotted specifically for former ILA recipients. “We all know local councils are strapped for cash, and services are being cut,” he said. “Aside from that, each person has an average two carers - which means 36,000 carers will become unemployed.”
Mr Nuttall feels so strongly he plans to take a protest group to Westminster.
Readers can sign his petition at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions. Search for ilf and click on “Please safeguard ILF funding in 2015 and onwards.”
Councillor Barbara Brownridge, cabinet member for social care and public health, gave the assurance that as pioneers for the independent living allowance scheme, Oldham Council had pledged to ring-fence the pot of money that would replace it, but she is uncertain how big that pot would be.
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