To coincide with the
Disability Rights UK independent living conference, In Control,
Disability Rights UK and others have published a review of the
Independent Living Strategy authored by Dr Jenny Morris and have
put together some ideas on how to restart and move the independent
living debate forward.
Over the past year a group of disabled people and allies from a
range of organisations have been meeting to discuss concerns about
the present state and future of independent living. The first
meeting was chaired by Baroness Jane Campbell who chaired the
Expert Panel advising the Independent Living Strategy during
The informal group includes disabled people who were part of the
independent living movement from the 1970s as well as younger
activists and others concerned with the future of independent
living. The group has been discussing what we and others might
practically do to help protect people's access to independent
To inform activity and facilitate wider debate we decided to
undertake a brief review of review of evidence about the impact of
the 2008 Independent Living Strategy.
In summary, the review found that:
- There is no evidence of significant progress in disabled
people's experiences of choice and control in their lives since
- There has been an increase in numbers receiving personal
budgets for social care, and when delivered well, they improve
- However, there have been significant limitations to effective
delivery of personal budgets. Most have taken the form of
council-managed services and there is evidence that inadequate
funding and restrictions on how personal budgets/direct payments
may be used can inhibit choice and control.
- Disabled people who need support in their daily lives are
experiencing diminishing opportunities to participate in family and
- Older people are finding it more difficult to access support
and are experiencing fewer options and opportunities for
- People with high levels of support needs are at increasing risk
- Mental health needs are increasing, but access to mental health
services is becoming more difficult.
- One in four people using social care services say information
is fairly or very difficult to find, and there have been
significant reductions in advice and advocacy services,
particularly those funded by legal aid.
- The employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people
remains at 30 per cent - the level it was in 2010.
- There is no evidence that current policies to support disabled
people into work are improving employment opportunities: only five
per cent of disabled people on the Work Programme have found a
- The reported success rate for the Work Choice Programme is much
better but only one per cent receive this form of support.
- There has been a 16 per cent decline in the numbers of disabled
people receiving support from the Access to Work Programme between
2009/10 and 2012/13.
- Large numbers of disabled people have experienced a reduction
in their household income since 2010.
- Disabled people are experiencing a reduction in housing
opportunities and an increasing number are living in accommodation
which is not suited to their needs.
- There has been a small decrease in the percentage of disabled
people experiencing difficulties with transport, but a large
increase in transport difficulties experienced by unemployed or
economically inactive disabled people.
- There have been significant reductions in expenditure on
important programmes intended to increase transport
In addition to this paper, the group has also been exploring how
to make the right to live independently in the community a reality
and have put some ideas together for discussion and
The group believes that we need to build on some important
innovations, such as direct payments, personal budgets, disabled
people's user-led organisations and self-advocacy. It also believes
that there is a need to learn from what hasn't worked well, or from
the barriers that good ideas have experienced during
These ideas for the 'Access to Living Scheme' have been
published on the
'Authors of our lives' blog. The report by Jenny Morris can
also be accessed here.
Elsewhere, John Evans, a disability rights and diversity
consultant has written this excellent
blog post for Guardian society on why we can't give up on
independent living. And Sue Bott at Disability Rights UK has
written this provocative
blog post on the need for a new vision for independent