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The price of a spinal injury

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Six disabled people who receive support from the Independent Living Fund (ILF) have mounted a High Court challenge to the government against a proposal to close the fund.

The government decision to close the ILF and devolve responsibility to local authorities is being challenged by the claimants, who want the court to declare that if the earlier consultation period which closed in October 2012 is found to be unlawful, any decision based on that consultation is also unlawful.  Judgement, one way or the other, is anticipated by April 2013.

The action is part of a campaign by several disabled groups against cuts in centrally-funded support.

They maintain that if people aren’t looked after properly at the outset, their needs become more acute and the cost of meeting them increases. That’s especially true of people who’ve suffered spinal injuries as a result of an accident that may not have been their fault.  

Spinal injuries have a huge, long-term impact on the victim’s life and their relationships with their family. A victim of a spinal cord injury has to meet lifetime care expenses which can include buying a new house or adapting existing accommodation and sourcing specialised equipment.

Many people with a high level spinal cord injury require a hospital-type bed, for example, while some may need a ventilator or live-in carer.

Compensation awards for all kinds of spinal cord injury must pay for appropriate, expert rehabilitation services. Setting up a Personal Injury Trust is essential to ring fence that compensation award, while preserving entitlement to equally important means-tested state or local authority support where it exists. 

Early and ongoing assistance is what's needed to help regain independence and mobility after a spinal cord injury, so while state support continues to be eroded, managing any compensation award becomes even more important in order to give security and certainty about long-term support.

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