The Independent Living Fund (ILF) faces fresh attempts to abolish it, despite a Court of Appeal ruling against the move last year.
The Government announced a new closure date of June 30, 2015 for the scheme, which will see the transfer of funding to local authorities to administer through their adult social care systems.
Mike Penning, the minister for disabled people, said: “We continue to spend £50 billion a year on disabled people and the services provided to them, and as part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, we want to make sure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential.”
Five disabled people challenged a ruling by High Court judge Mr Justice Blake in April 2013 which said that the closure of the ILF was lawful. They won their case at the Appeal Court in November to overturn the Government’s plan.
The plaintiffs had argued that the decision to close the ILF was unlawful because there had not been proper consultation before the decision was made on December 18, 2012.
Mr Penning released a ministerial statement in which he said: “Before receiving the Court of Appeal’s judgment, the Independent Living Fund had been making excellent progress to deliver its transfer review programme - an ambitious and complex programme to enable both local authorities and Independent Living Fund users to prepare for the transfer to the new arrangements.
“The suspension of closure activity, to allow time for the future of the Independent Living Fund to be fully considered, means that asking the Independent Living Fund to complete the transfer programme within the original timescales would involve an unacceptable degree of risk.
“For that reason, I will be asking the Independent Living Fund to resume closure activity immediately, to deliver a re-planned programme that will achieve closure by June 30 2015. This will allow additional time to ensure that adequate transfer arrangements have been made in respect of all ILF users.”
Three judges - Lord Justice Elias, Lord Justice Kitchin and Lord Justice McCombe - unanimously ruled that the December 18, 2012 decision to close the ILF should be quashed.
The original ruling had been based on evidence that did not adequately reflect responses to the consultation, “indicating that independent living might well be put seriously in peril for a large number”, Lord Justice McCombe said.
The Government had failed to comply with its public sector equality duty to properly assess the effects from the closure, as required under the Equality Act 2010, the judges said.