Decision to close “Independent Living Fund” quashed by Court of Appeal

Court of Appeal quashes decision of the Minister for Disabled Persons to close ‘The Independent Living Fund’ (‘the ILF’) from March 2015.

The Court of Appeal has heard an appeal  from a  group of persons with disabilities who receive funds from the ILF.
The ILF assists disabled persons  to lead independent lives, away from full time residential care, and as fully as possible in the community. In 2010-2011 the ILF received some £359 million from the DWP for fulfilment of its purposes. Over 19,000 people are currently in receipt of assistance through the ILF.
In 2012, following a consultation, the Minister decided to close The Independent Living Fund from March 2015.
      The ground of appeal which the court upheld was that the Minister failed to discharge the public sector equality duty (‘PSED’) imposed under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 (‘the 2010 Act’), as the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) that had been undertaken was not adequate to enable the discharge of the PSED;
       The Court found that there was a heavy burden on public authorities in discharging the PSED as imposed by the 2010 Act, and ensuring that there was evidence demonstrating that the duty had been discharged. The Court found there to be insufficient evidence to demonstrate that regard was had to the possibly grave impact upon individuals in the affected group. The information placed before the Minister did not provide her with sufficient information for regard to be had to the serious peril to the independent living of a large number of people.
       There was only one reference in the EIA to the 2010 Act, and only one short passage dealing with the issue. Aside from this, there was nothing further to identify the precise impact upon persons potentially affected. The Court thus concluded that the appeal succeeded on this ground.
  Given that the decision reached was unlawful, the Court held that it fell to be quashed.