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13.03.13

EHRC intervenes in Independent Living Fund court case

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is intervening in the Judicial Review at the High Court into the Government’s decision to scrap the Independent Living Fund.

The closure could affect 20,000 disabled people and will make them entirely dependent on local authority services, and could require them to move to residential care or to live in hospitals. Claimants are arguing that the DWP had a flawed consultation process which breaches the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The Commission is intervening to assist the court by clarifying the point at which authorities are obliged to have due regard to eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations when making plans.

It will argue that a policy which adversely affects rights protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and is made without appropriate information is likely to breach the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The Commission's deputy director of legal, Wendy Hewitt, said: “There are a series of cases in which the Commission has sought to clarify that the Public Sector Duty is as robust under the Equality Act 2010 as it was under previous legislation. This has been done in part by referring to standards in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“This case raises issues as to the point at which steps must be taken to meet the duty and to what extent authorities must consult to ensure they have enough information to assess the impact on equality.”

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