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25 March 2008: Edinburgh User Meeting

The meeting was jointly organised by the ILF and Edinburgh Funding Independence team.

The group meeting was split in half with the first section focused on general customer service issues and user experiences of the ILF, the second on communication issues, particularly the ILF User Newsletter.

A summary of the discussions follows:

General comments and issues

  • There is always a lot of information (the right amount) in letters to customers.
  • The new calculation sheet breakdown is very good and useful.
  • The volume of literature currently sent out is appropriate - do not add to it.
  • ILF is a very approachable organisation.
  • Staff are always very helpful - with only a few exceptions.
  • Move to regionalised organisation has definitely improved communication for users and Social Workers.
  • Independent Living Fund Assessors are very approachable and positive.
  • Employers cannot be expected to monitor whether their PAs are also working for others (and therefore exceeding EU regulations on working hours).
  • There is a general lack of awareness about ILF within social care.
  • Review process can be delayed when people do not have an allocated Social Worker - does it have to be linked?  ILF users should not have funding placed in jeopardy because of administrative inefficiency.
  • ILF client base should be extended to include people who receive Middle Rate DLA.
  • ILF is one of 4 sources of funding - it is very complicated for people to navigate through the funding system.
  • Users would prefer ILF to become a "one stop shop" and administer the funds on the behalf of the Local Authority.
  • There is too much paperwork that goes with multiple funding streams.
  • It is difficult for Social Workers to split "shared care" packages.
  • ILF and Social Services should work towards single assessments.
  • Avoid abbreviations like "£4£" (pound for pound) in letters wherever possible.
  • Avoid premptory or threatening tone in letters to users - try not to worry users unduly by threatening suspension of payments if failing to get response from Social Worker. 
  • Inadvertant overpayments (caused by changes in benefits) seem unfair.

ILF Newsletter

The group were asked to think of ideas for the name, style and content for a "new-look" User Newsletter.

Here is a summary of the ideas:

  • Front cover should feature a "happy face" - for example, a smiling ILF user.
  • Covers could show movie posters, images of sport or leisure pursuits and holidays.
  • Feature idea: "Agony Aunt" - a response to readers' ILF queries.
  • Advice on holiday destinations for disabled people.
  • Prize competitions.
  • Regular articles about how people use ILF and how ILF and Direct Payments work together.
  • Specific editions concentrating on different regions of UK.
  • Recruitment for jobs working for the ILF.
  • "Don't forget the Highlands!"

ILF Website

The group were asked to consider what elements of the ILF website ought to be retained when content goes to the DirectGov website (as part of the government's website migration plan).  This is a summary of what was said:

  • Need to retain Professionals' User Guide.
  • Keep all information leaflets.
  • Downloadable forms.
  • Useful links to other disability-related websites.
  • Contact information.
  • Ensure accessibility and user-friendly style.

 


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