Sunday 23 October 2016

Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houstan slams government's 'appalling' decision to cut disabled grant

The Coronation Street actress is 'dreading what the Government will do to disabled people next'

Heather Saul

Published 09/07/2015 | 13:19

Cherrylee Houstan
Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street Pic: ITV
Cherrylee Houstan Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street Pic: ITV

Disabled actress Cherylee Houstan has condemned the British Government’s "appalling" decision to scrap the Independent Living Fund (ILF) for people disabilities, warning many will be trapped at home, at the mercy of local councils.

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The ILF fund is designed to help severely disabled people lead independent lives in their community, instead of being placed in residential care.

Now, local councils throughout the UK will be responsible for distributing funds for care. The closure of ILF on 29 June left many people concerned that their independence could be at risk, particularly as the money does not have to be ring-fenced and could potentially be spent on other things by local councils.

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Houstan, who was the soap's first disabled actress, told the Radio Times: “It’s appalling and I’m dreading what the government are going to do to disabled people next. They’re taking away everything that links us to society.

“People who had ILF will now have to go to bed and get up at whatever time their council says. They won’t be able to work or socialise. They’ll just be at home, washed and fed. It’s dreadful, considering this is an affluent country. It makes me want to cry.”

Houstan was born with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare condition that affects tissues supporting bones and organs. It can be mild for some and life threatening in others. She plays single mum Izzy Armstrong.

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She said the cuts to disability benefits were terrifying. "Shouldn’t the system be protecting the vulnerable? But what we’re doing in this country is protecting the rich, which is astounding."

A Government spokesperson told The Independent replacing ILF with a single care support system managed by local authorities was in order to create a more "efficient and integrated service" for those needing support.

The spokesperson said: “Prior to closure, the Independent Living Fund Trust provided each local authority in England with up-to-date detailed schedules showing the allocated funding for each individual, so that they have accurate information about the level of support provided to each user.

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