Gaping holes have been exposed in the government’s Independent Living Fund (ILF) promises, after a local authority slashed a disabled woman’s support by 48 hours a week when the fund closed.Daisy* had been receiving 49 hours a week of ILF support, in addition to 35 hours of council support, but that package is now set to be cut to just 36 hours in total.Hounslow council – which originally offered her just 21 hours a week, before it agreed to carry out another assessment – even suggested that she started using adult nappies, to lower her reliance on support from personal assistants and so “increase her independence”.She has described the cuts as “demeaning, dehumanising and wrong and utterly, devastatingly traumatising”, and is now hoping to take legal action against the council over the cut to her support package.ILF was run by the Department for Work and Pensions and when it closed on 30 June was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.But the coalition government decided that it should close – despite a high-profile campaign to keep it open (pictured) – promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred through the Department for Communities and Local Government to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.Announcing the date of the ILF closure, in March 2014, Mike Penning, at the time the minister for disabled people, said there had been “significant developments in how we provide social care to disabled people so they can live independent lives”, and that the government wanted to “make sure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential”.Instead, the transition process has been littered with reports of delays in reassessments for former ILF-users and cuts to their care packages, compounded by many local authorities failing to plan ahead for the closure.Daisy, a wheelchair-user with a number of long-term health conditions, who needs support 24 hours a day, already has to rely on friends, family and personal assistants (PAs) to provide unpaid support for the rest of the week, even with a package of 84 hours a week support.But she now fears the council’s decision will destroy her social life, her links with the community, her efforts to care for her 83-year-old mother, and her campaigning and activism, as well as risking falls, dislocations, pressure sores, infections and general deterioration of her physical and mental health.She used ILF support to speak about the imminent closure of ILF at the Glastonbury Festival speakers forum in June, just days before the fund closed for good.As part of the council’s offer of 36 hours of support a week, she will receive just two blocks of three-and-a-half hours of support for “accessing the community”.Before she started receiving support from ILF, she said, she was rarely able to contribute to society.Being offered just seven hours a week for excursions into the outside world has added to her “distress and feelings of panic, fear and dread and loss of control over her day-to-day life”.She said that being supported by her PAs to campaign on disability rights, independent living and social inclusion has been of “significant importance” to her, as the government “abuses its position of power to make cruel and inhumane cuts to disability benefits and attacks the basic human rights of sick and disabled people”.She has told her social worker that suggesting that she would have “greater independence by being put into incontinence pads so that she wold not be dependent on carers to help her to access the toilet is a prime example of this abuse and neglect”.She has told the council that maintaining a home where she feels safe and secure has enabled her to be “more outgoing and more able to contribute to society”, and that removing that support will “seriously affect” her ability to be part of society.A spokeswoman for Hounslow council confirmed that Daisy was now receiving just 36 hours of support per week.She said: “An assessment of [her] needs was carried out by Hounslow council.“The number of hours care which [she] is receiving as a direct payment is not based on what she received in the past, but what her needs are currently.”She refused to say how many other former ILF-users had had their support packages cut by the council.Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said they were aware of at least three other local authorities that were “slashing people’s care packages, in spite of the fact that they have had money devolved to them” from the government to cover the extra costs of former ILF-users.And she said that no government department was monitoring the impact of the ILF closure, after DWP “dumped responsibility for it” when the fund closed.Burnip said Daisy’s case showed that ministers were “liars”, but added: “I don’t think anybody ever believed them anyhow.”*Not her real name
KEIRON Cunningham says the win over Catalans wasn’t the prettiest to watch – but it was good to get two points under their belts.Saints got their title defence underway with an 18-7 victory at Langtree Park on Friday.“It wasn’t pretty,” he said. “It’s disappointing for me that all these rugby league fans who have been waiting for this season to start, to see the sport they love… that after two TV games all people are talking about is how many refereeing decisions are made in the game. We want to just play Rugby League.“The side hung on in there and their resilience and effort defensively was good – they keep showing that to me because they are making themselves defend a lot. We defended 30 tackles in a row and then went up the other end and should have scored. That changes the whole aspect of the game – our skill was off tonight.“We looked a little nervous; we looked like we were playing on TV for the first game of the season. When we got into our rhythms though we looked undefendable – we threatened them every time.“Catalans showed immense resilience for what they have gone through. They lost Tonga, didn’t have half backs and were without middle men. I thought they were great and will be up there this year.”Keiron revealed after the game that Luke Walsh is in light training with the team now and is an outside chance for the World Club Challenge.
GOOD luck to the players and staff who are travelling to Australia today!Saints Academy Tour of Australia will take in games against Wests Tigers (Oct 17), Central Coast (Oct 21), Parramatta Eels (Oct 25) and Penrith Panthers (Oct 31).“On behalf at everyone at the club we wish all the players and staff – as well as those parents travelling with them – the very best of luck and a great trip to Australia,” Saints Chairman Eamonn McManus said.“The Tours have become a foundation and a tradition of the Academy and the players have represented the club and themselves with success, distinction and honour.“Games have seen boys develop into men and there’s no coincidence that 37 tourists have gone on to play in Super League.“It is an environment which is challenging but fun too and builds character.“I’m sure those on the trip will do themselves and the club proud and we are all behind them.”Details of the Tour can be found here.
With great support from the Saints Heritage Society, we will have a different front cover for every home game this season which will take its’ inspiration from a retro-programme featuring Saints against the same opposition back in the day.We start tonight with a Saints vs. Wigan classic from Good Friday in 1966, which we hope bodes well for tonight! That day Saints recorded a 17-10 win that included a try from a certain Tom van Vollenhoven!We feature that team inside the programme and this regular feature will also highlight their individual Heritage numbers, produced for us as a result of the outstanding work from our friends at the Saints Heritage Society.Tom has a very appropriate number for a flying winger so pick up your copy to find out which one!If you have any ideas for covers you would like to see and you have the original programme in your collection, then please scan the front cover and email to us at [email protected] never know, we might just choose yours to become part of our collection in 2019.The usual features are inside with columns from Chairman, Eamonn McManus, Justin Holbrook and James Roby plus loads of other content including an interview with Lachlan Coote, details of our successful 2021 World Cup bid to become a Host Venue, more information on how Heritage numbers were brought to life, plus a look back to the video years of the legendary Ron Hoofe, a quick Quiz page and something for Junior Saints to keep them entertained too.Buy yours from inside or outside the ground tonight for just £3 and many thanks to Warrington Audi for their season-long Programme Sponsorship.In addition, we have produced just 200 copies of a special limited-edition version for the same £3 price which will contain exactly the same great content as the main programme but with a special one-off cover design. This unique cover is in tribute to our flying winger Tommy Makinson as he makes his 200th Saints appearance tonight and this version is only on sale in the Club Shop, so when they’ve gone, they’ve gone!Please note, the Tommy Makinson version will NOT be on sale in any other area of the Stadium, so if you want one make sure you visit the Club Shop before you enter the turnstilesAll Hospitality guests will receive the Retro cover version as part of their package this evening.