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Annual Report 2003-2004



Annual report 2003/04
Delivering improved service





Background Information

The Independent Living Funds were originally established in 1988 as a UK wide resource, dedicated to the financial support of disabled people, to enable them to choose to live in the community rather than in residential care.

The Funds are constituted as publicly financed discretionary trusts, and are funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Great Britain and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland. For both Funds, awards are made in the form of regular four-weekly payments to individual, which are used to buy personal care and/or domestic assistance. Recipients may use care agencies, or employ personal assistants but may not employ relatives who live in the same house.

There are two Funds: the Extension Fund and the 1993 Fund (93 Fund). The Extension fund was closed to new applications in March 1993 and now continues to assist those people who were ILF users between 1988 and 1993. The 1993 Fund accepts new users and works in partnership with Local Authorities. The 1993 Fund is able to pay up to a maximum of £420 a week, the Extension Fund is able to pay up to a maximum of £715 per week. (See page 23 for 1993 Fund Eligibility Criteria).

A combined administration operates for the two Funds, with 158 staff based in Nottingham and 78 self employed ILF Assessors who carry out visits and assessments throughout the UK.

At 31 March 2004 the Independent Living Funds were helping to support 16,413 people. 

Front cover: Stained glass by Rosaling Grimshaw,
Photograph by David Gilliland.

Our Purpose

To provide financial assistance, under the terms of the Trust Deeds, in an efficient, cost effective way that respects a disabled person's requirements for personal care and domestic assistance which enables independent living. 


ďBefore ILF life was very difficult for us as a family, having Katie at home needing care 24 hours a day, but on saying that, we hadnít noticed it was difficult, just a different way of life! My husband and I always having to socialise separately, and only part of the family able to go out.
Now Katie enjoys meeting with other people, doing lots of different things and still being with people she recognises. All her carers are local people who know her well. After being with her carers she comes home happy to a relaxed household.
We found her caseworker pleasant and helpful and now having a new caseworker who appears the same we are overjoyed.Ē

Extract from a letter to the Independent Living (1993) Fund from the mother of a ILF user.


ďI take this opportunity to thank you for the assistance you have given in providing care for my son without which we would not have been able to keep him in his own home. As a result this enhanced his quality of life and enabled him to achieve things which would otherwise have been impossible.Ē
                                                                                           mother of ILF user

By Chairman, Margaret Cooper

I was appointed to the post of Chairman of the Trustees of the Independent Living Funds in August 2003. I succeeded Sydney Shore who had held the position since the formation of the present Funds in 1993.

I would like to pay tribute to Sydney who worked tirelessly for the Funds during those 10 years, and saw them develop into the modern organisation which we have today.

Two other Trustees also retired from the board during the year. John Shepherd and Anne Davies had both been Trustees since the present Funds were formed in 1993. John, as treasurer, has ensured sound finances throughout the last ten years while ensuring that there has been sufficient money available to support the thousand of disabled people we help. As well as this demanding role, John has proved an able vice-chairman and also brought his professional expertise to the audit committee.

Anne Davies showed great commitment to her work with the Trustees where her contributions were greatly valued.

I have taken over an ILF that is in good shape but there is still much work to do for us to be satisfied that we are an organisation that is as well managed, effective and efficient as we would like. In this report you will see that there have been many developments in the last year that have improved the service to the thousands of disabled people who receive funding but in parallel with these there has been a significant drive to ensure that the Funds are accountable and managed in a way that meets the needs of a modern organisation while remaining focused on the clients which we are there to serve.
This report also sets out some of the key objectives for the coming year, which will build on the progress made. The themes of our plans for this coming year are to meet governance requirements, deliver key results, improve performance, maintain a client and other stakeholder focus, continue to develop ways in which IT can help improvement, policy development and modernising personnel policy and procedure.

It will be another challenging year but one that, I believe will bring benefit to all the Fundsí users and stakeholders.

I would like to express my thanks to my fellow Trustees for their support throughout the year. During the year we have welcomed Steven Jack, Marie Martin and Professor Peter Cook to the board and each of them have given generously of their time to further the work of the board.

The energy and dedication of the Chief Executive, Elaine Morton, backed by a committed workforce, has been a major factor in achieving so much this year and I would like to thank her and all the staff involved for their work during the year.

From left: Rachel Chiu, Stephen Jack, Thomas Begg, Professor Peter Cooke, Margaret Cooper (Chairman), Marie Martin.
During the year Sydney Shore CBE, John Shepherd OBE and Anne Davies OBE retired from the board.

Focused on Improving Service

A review of the year 2003/04

At the beginning of the year we set ourselves a very challenging programme of improvement. During the past 12 months we have achieved many of our objectives. Where we did not meet our aims significant progress has been made and our plans for the coming year include action to ensure that they are completed within the next 12 months.

Details of how we have performed against the specific measures that we set ourselves for the year can be found on pages 12 and 13. A significant achievement has been to reduce the average time taken to process a new application by 46 days. There have been various contributory factors to this. Our working practices have been reviewed and this has led to more effective procedures. We have also improved the turn around time of our ILF Assessors. 

Although we have not achieved the stated targets for reducing the time it takes to complete a review we have reduced the times by 25 days (Extension Fund) and 84 days (1993 Fund). These average figures are higher than intended in part because there were a number of reviews that had been outstanding for a long time. The clearance of these cases has raised the average.

Delivering an improved user service was a key focus for the year. We have completed a review of the forms that we ask users to complete and with advice from our User Group have made them easier to use while providing better quality of information, enabling us to process information more effectively.  Library photo posed by models.

Our procedures for handling complaints and reviewing decisions have been reviewed and revised.
We have evaluated and restructured the way that we monitor the service that the ILF Assessors provide. (ILF Assessors were previously called Visiting Social workers or VSWs.) 

We have improved the speed with which we are able to process our letter production to a maximum of 3 days. This is just one way that we have been able to speed up the time we take, on average, to process work.

Making our publications accessible in other languages is an important way that we can improve the services we provide to our customers. We have not been able to make all our leaflets able yet but will continue this year to widen their availability. 

A vital part of our strategy over the last 2 years has been to carry out a review visit to all of our clients as the first phase of a commitment to reviewing every users circumstances every 2 years. This ensures that we remain in regular contact with all our clients, enables us to make sure we are meeting their current needs and that the information we use to make our awards is up to date. During this year we have completed this first phase and embarked on the second phase by revisiting those reviewed 2 years ago.

Equally important this year has been the work we have done to ensure that we have effective relationships with the various people and groups who have an interest in our work.

It is very important that we listen to what our users tell us about our service. The User Group, which meets regularly with Fundsí officials, continues to provide a valuable source of consultation. They have made a valuable contribution to a number of improvements in our service. Plans were put in place during the year to meet with groups of users in other parts of the country in the coming year. Library photo posed by models.

(More information about the User Group can be found on our website at or by contacting Jonathon Duckworth, see page 22).

It is equally important for the ILF to communicate regularly with all of our customers regularly. During this year we have increased the publication of a newsletter to users to twice a year and also produced the first edition of a regular newsletter aimed at those organisations that have an interest in the work of the Funds.

Our relationship with local authorities is vital to the effective delivery of services for users. In this area we have produced a Professional Usersí Guide that provides in depth and detailed policy and procedural information for advisors, social workers and support workers. (The guide can be viewed on our website at

It was our original intention to research direct payments schemes and personal assistance support schemes and also to analyse causes of application failure. In both cases we have had to review how we might take these forward and, as a result changed our plans during the year.

We have recognised over recent years that we need to improve our planning. We have succeeded in all the areas that aimed to do this during the past year. Many of these actions have also ensured that we have been proactive in keeping up with legislation requirements and changes.

We completed testing of our Business Continuity Plans, put all our internal forms into consistent format and put into action a Race Equality scheme. The latter has led us to make initial contact with a number of groups that represent people from ethnic minority groups and ensure that our policies and procedures do not disadvantage any users or potential applicants. (See page 14 for statistics about ethnicity.)

During the year the ILF produced a publication scheme, as required by the Freedom of Information Act, that provides the public with the opportunity to obtain documents about the ILF. We have also continued to develop our website as an alternative way for people to access an increasing amount of information about our business. (The publication scheme can be viewed on our website at or a copy can be obtained from Simon French, see page 21).

Plans are also in place to begin a process of cleansing all the files we hold on our users. This is required in order to comply with the Data Protection Act but will also enable more effective processing.

A significant change for the ILF has been an internal reorganisation. This has brought about a merge of the teams that administer the two Funds.  Instead of separate teams administering
work for the Extension Fund and the 1993 Fund, staff now carry out work on both Funds. We believe that this will provide a more consistent service to our customers and provide scope to improve our efficiency.

As in recent years we have continued to develop and improve our IT systems to provide staff with the best tools to carry out their work effectively. A detailed IT strategy has been created to guide actions in this field, the most significant being the integration of our two operating systems into one. The immediate benefit has been to enable staff to access e-mail facilities and this has increased the opportunities for staff and users to communicate directly. 

A big project for the ILF, which we recognise will take a number of years to complete, is to carry out a review of all of our policies and procedures. We must ensure that policies are consistent and best achieve our aims whilst our procedures are effective and user friendly. The process of review has begun and a work programme put in place to manage this large and complex piece of work.

It is equally important that payments are made properly and to the appropriate people. To ensure that we do this a payment security strategy has been put in place to ensure that money is paid correctly, securely and based on up to date information. We have acquired a new data matching service against state benefits (where we have the usersí written consent) which alerts us to changes which may require a review of the ILF award.

Progress has been made in other areas to make sure that the ILF uses the government funding wisely and efficiently. All administrative expenditure has been reviewed to ensure that we achieve best value for money from all our business relationships and a 3 year programme for retendering all main supplies and services is now in place. This programme has already started to operate, with reviews carried out in the areas of printing, office supplies, banking, IT support and legal services, resulting in significant savings.
The operation of the ILF is subject to the regular scrutiny of the National Audit Office and the Department for Work and Pensions Internal Assurance Service. The support and advise we receive from them has been supplemented this year by the appointment of a firm as internal auditors for the first time. This will give us an external view of our key operations and help to ensure that we deliver a good service and apply good governance practices. 

This year has seen the ILF put increased emphasis on staff training. It is recognised that an effective training programme is vital for us to continue the progress of recent years. This has been the first year where the ILF has enjoyed the services of a training manager. This has enabled us to review and revise the training programme of new recruits, incorporate a customer service emphasis within our training programmes and ensure our staff have the skills to make the most of developments in out IT systems.

We recognised in our 2002/03 business plan that effective personnel management is vital to the success we are striving for. A number of policies were identified as providing this framework. During the year it became obvious that the work necessary to bring in these policies was greater than we had first thought. Much work has been undertaken but the final introduction of new or revised policies is now planned for 2004/05. 

Accounting for Public Monies 2003/4

The main source of income is in the form of Government grants from the Department for Work and Pensions (Great Britain), and the Department for Social Development (Northern Ireland); other income is mostly bank interest on credit balances.

The majority of expenditure consists of grants to individual users of the Funds; administration costs account for just 2.9% of total expenditure.

A full copy of the Accounts and Financial Report for the year ending 31 March 2004 can be viewed on the website ( A printed copy is available on written application to Simon French (see page 21). 

How did we do?

In our business plan for 2003/04 we set ourselves some targets against which we would measure our performance. 

Improve the average time taken to make an offer of financial assistance on new applications from 132 days to 105 days by March 2004.
By March 2004 the average time taken was 96 days.

Improve the average time taken to complete a review visit for Extension Fund users from 132 days to 84 days by March 2004.
By March 2004 the average time taken was 103 days.

Improve the average time taken to complete a review visit for 1993 Fund users from 219 days to 105 days by March 2004.
By March 2004 the average time taken was 133 days.
Both Fundsí review visits are being cleared much more quickly because of increased staffing and revised working practices. The time taken to arrange a joint visit with the local authority and waiting for replies have a significant effect on these clearance times.

At least 90% of letters complaints to be answered within 28 days.
91% of complaints were answered within 28 days.

At least 95% of requests for reviews of decisions to be completed within 28 days.
42% of decision reviews were answered within 28 days.
A new management post has now been created with responsibility for reviewing and implementing the complaints and decision review procedures in order to improve the service to customers in this area.

At least 90% of letters produced to meet quality standards by September 2003 and 95% by March 2004.
78% of letters met quality standards.
Letters are checked before they are sent. This measures how many letters do not need amendment before being sent. New standard letters will be introduced in 2004/05.

Deliver presentations to a minimum of 25% of local councils during the year.
Presentations carried out to 32% of local authorities.

90% of local councils to be satisfied with our service.
100% of local councils asked were satisfied with our service to them.

Payment accuracy to be at least 90%.
Accuracy of 88% achieved.
Payment work is checked before it is authorised. Any errors found are put right before a payment is authorised.

Work quality standard to be met in at least 90% of cases.
Quality of 88% achieved.
This measures whether the way we have handled a case meets our high standards of customer service.

Security standard to be met in at least 95% of cases selected for check.
Security standard met in 92% of cases.
The standard sets out the evidence we need to be sure we are making our payments to the right person. Where the standard is not met we seek further evidence.

Userís benefit details to be matched with DWP information in at least 50% of cases by March 2004.
29% of caseload matched.
Matching the information we have about the benefits our user receives with DWP records means that we do not have to ask for proof from the user. This has proved slower than expected but we will continue to increase the number of users that we can match.

Amount of monies overpaid to be no more than 3% of the total amount of user payments made.
Annual overpayments on both Funds equate to 3% of total payments.

Number of compliance irregularities to be no higher than 2% of total number of users receiving payment.
Total referrals equate to 0.8% of year-end caseload.


In addition to our Performance Management System the ILF publishes a User Profile Analysis twice a year around October and April. This details a range of statistics about users, which we use to help inform decisions on policy and identify key issues for us to target.
If you would like a full version, which also contains details of numbers of users in each local authority area, this is available from our website or you can contact Simon French on 0845 601 8815.

The ILF received over 100,000 items of post and 120,000 phone calls in the last 12 months. In the same period we received only 43 registered complaints and answered 27 letters from MPs. We also registered 51 letters of thanks and praise for our service of the help the ILF provided for a disabled person. 

During the year 201,477 individual payments were made to disabled people.

Analysis by ethnicity (partial information)

We collect information on ethnicity on a voluntary basis, in order to help us actively meet the provisions of the Race Relations Act 2000. Percentages are shown of those who have provided information to date.

Afro-Caribbean 43  1.2%
Asian  114 3.1%
Black 57 1.6%
Mixed 35 1.0%
White 3,344 92.4%
Other  27 0.7%

* award suspended, or payments made on receipt of invoices for variable care costs

1993 Fund

By 31 March 2004 the 93 Fund was assisting 10,253 disabled people, an increase of 1247 users or 13.8% since 31 March 2003.

The average 93 Fund award in payment was £249.82 per week. This had increased by £7.52 or 3.1% since 31 March 2003.

Extension Fund

By the 31 March 2004 the Extension Fund was assisting 6160 disabled people, a decrease of 717 or 10.4% since March 2003.

The average award in payment was £224.58 per week. This has increased by £20.27 or 9.9% since 31 March 2003.

The Year Ahead

The last three years have been ones of considerable change and development for the ILF. In that time we have made real progress but recognise that there is still more to do if we are to sustain the momentum and further improve standards.

This will not be a process that will be concluded within the next 12 months.  The primary aim in the
coming year is to maintain the progress we have
Chief Executive, Elaine Morton 
made.  This means that we will look again at all areas of our work to see that our processes are both efficient and effective. However we will also continue to meet the challenge to modernise the way we work.

We will not lose sight of the fact that our aim is to help people with high support needs and our plans for this year continue to focus on improving the service we provide to our prime customers. It is important to us that we have an effective relationship with them and those who support and advise them. The User Group has been important to us in providing an opportunity to discuss our service with some of our users and hear their views about it. In the coming year we will be holding general meetings, asking users to give us feedback through questionnaires and considering setting up further user groups.
The main reason I joined this group are to express my views on the knowledge & experience I have gained by being a wheelchair user and the social barriers that exist for disabled peopleí.
                                                                                      User Group Member 

We will also work to develop the contacts we have started to make with organisations representing ethnic groups to ensure equal access and treatment in all aspects of our service.

These measures will help us to increase our understanding of the views of our users. Another major stakeholder for the ILF is the local authorities. Our relationship with local authorities is one of partnership and it is important to ensure that this partnership works as effectively as possible. Our aim during this year will be to consult with the local authorities on various aspects of our work together and the ILF policies that impact upon them. A clear understanding by both ourselves and the local authorities of the relationship will ensure that we can work together to provide our users with a good service.

Work on reviewing our policies and procedures has identified that this will be a massive task. Increased staff resources will be used to make sure that we continue to drive this forward. 

There are some very significant areas of our policy that will be reviewed this year. It is extremely important that policies that will ensure assurance of the security of our payments, their appropriate use and compliance with employment responsibilities are given priority.

While doing so we also intend to look at all of our processes and procedures to eliminate any unnecessary bureaucracy. We have made significant progress in reducing the times it takes us, on average, to 
process an application or to clear a review. It is important that we consolidate these improvements.

Extending our performance management information will enable us to measure our performance in other aspects of our service and to identify the improvements we make in these areas as well.

We have now started on the second phase of our client review programme, which means that we visit all of our current users at least once every two years. We believe that this regular comprehensive review benefits our users because we can ensure that we have up to date information. This phase will continue for the next two years. 
Library photo posed by models.

The review programme relies on the continued splendid work of the ILF Assessors. They play a vital part in the success of the ILF. It is important for the organisation and for our customers that they perform to a high standard. A revised quality review process is being introduced to assure us that these high standards are maintained.

None of our aims could be achieved without the continued commitment and skills of ILF staff. They are vital to our success and we must make sure that we have in place a framework that is encouraging and professional. We have recognised that some of our personnel policies need modernising to meet the changing demands of the organisation. The work that we have started will be continued throughout this year to put in place the policies any modern, forward thinking organisation needs to support its staff.

Similarly training and development plays a crucial role by ensuring that our staff have the appropriate skills and knowledge. Our training and development programme for the coming year is intensive but necessary if we are to achieve the plans set out here and in the ILF Business Plan for 2004/05. In particular we have identified that management development for current managers and their potential successors is vital if we are to build and sustain our current progress in the future.

The ILF Business Plan for 2004/05 can be viewed on our website at or can be obtained by contacting Simon French (see page 21).
When people ask what I do for a living I say I work in an office - which doesnít sound very interesting. However, the bigger picture is that each file we hold is as unique as the person it relates to. For every hour I spend assessing offers and payments I am helping to give someone a better quality of life. Thatís what itís all about - and thatís a good feeling.Ē 
                                                 Paula Curtis, Review Support Team, ILF


Up until I was disabled I lived a very active life. I worked and played hard, so adjusting to a life of just sitting in a chair from one day to another came very hard as I am sure it happens to many other people. My life was over. I was lucky enough to have some support from the local authority home care service but how do you make yourself want to go to the toilet at 10.30 am, to bed at 7.30 pm and so on.

My life was over or so I thought. Friends that you thought would be there started dropping off, their visits got less and less, the phone stopped ringing and I was isolated. Things were that bad that I started ringing the bank call centre just to have a chat with somebody.

After a hospital stay the community OT and her team came and visited me in my home. It was at this point that the direct payment scheme and ILF were mentioned to me and it was decided that I should apply. After waiting a short time my application was successful and here I am today!!

I could never say a big enough thank you. I never believed that I could be so happy again. I have even moved to be near my friends and family.

Since I moved I have more to do than I could have dreamed about. It is just like being on a constant holiday, we go shopping, the library, swimming, walks, the Resource Centre. I am so excited about what each day will bring for me.

I would like to say millions of thank yous.
                                                                                                              ILF User


Contact the Funds

To speak to someone about your case:
ILF telephone number: 0845 601 8815

Ring the switchboard on 0845 601 8815.  Tell the operator your name.  You will be put through to the person who deals with your case, or, if they are not available, one of their colleagues.

To write to the Funds:
You can write to the Funds at this address:
Independent Living Funds
PO Box 7525
To email the Funds:
To email the Funds about your case send it to
The email will be directed to your own caseworker.
To fax us:
1993 Fund:          0115 945 0945
Extension Fund:  0115 945 0946
To visit our website:
0845 601 8816

The office is open Monday to Friday.  Phone lines are in operation Monday - Thursday 9.00am to 4.30pm, Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm.  Phones are closed from 2.00 to 3.30pm on Thursday for staff training.

Want to know more about the Fund?

Thank you for taking time to read our Annual Report. If you would like any further information please contact:

- Trevor Chapman for information concerning this report;
- Simon French for information about our Publication Scheme or if you would like a copy of any of our publications;
- Ian Lawrence for enquiries about how to apply to the ILF;
- Robyn Lewis for information on our work with Local Authorities;
- Jon Duckworth for information concerning ILF User Groups and consultation with our customers.
- Avwiene Etafia if you wish to make a complaint.

For all other enquiries please contact our Customer Services Team.

- By Telephone: 0845 6018815
- By Text Phone: 0845 6018816
- By Email:
- In Writing: Independent Living Funds
PO Box 7525

Or visit our web site at where you will be able to find out more information concerning the Fundsí work and download our Business Plan, User Guides, User Profile Analysis, Financial Reports and Newsletters.

If you do not have access to the internet or would like a copy of one of our publications in an alternative format or language, please contact Simon French on 0845 6018815.

The ILF User Group

In 2002 the ILF formed a User Group to provide an opportunity to meet with some of the Fundsí users and learn from their experiences about the service we provide and how we can improve it.

The group is chaired by one of the Fundsí users and there having been varying numbers of users attend meetings, which are held at the ILF offices in Nottingham every 2 months. On average about 10 users are present at meetings.

The group have made valuable contributions to a number of the Fundsí publications and the way in which it provides the service to all users. 

For example the user group worked with external consultants to produce a user guide which is now issued to all new applicants and is being distributed as part of the programme of reviews.

They have had a significant input into the newsletter now sent to all users twice a year and have contributed ideas and suggestions to the content and presentation of this report.

More information about the group, including minutes of recent meetings can be viewed on our website at or you can contact Jonathan Duckworth (See page 21).

The ILF greatly values the views of all of its users and on page 21 you will find details of how you can contact the Funds.

1993 Fund Eligibility Criteria

A successful applicant to the 1993 Fund must meet the following criteria:

- Be living in the UK;
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Receive the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (or the equivalent Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance) and be able to live independently in the community for at least six months.
- Have savings/capital of less than £18,500 which includes savings/capital of partner, and an income which is insufficient to cover the cost of care needed;
- Be assessed by the local authority as being at risk of entering residential care, or capable of leaving it to live in the community; and
- Receive at least £200 worth of services/funding per week from the local authority, net of any charge and be assessed as needing additional care.

This report and other material referred to is subject to our copyright unless otherwise indicated. Where ILF owns the copyright the material may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium, as long as it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading manner. Where any part of the report is being re-published or copied to others, you must identify the source of the material and acknowledge the copyright status. Permission to reproduce material does not extend to any material accessed that is the copyright of third parties. This applies to photographs used in this report. You must obtain authorisation to reproduce such material directly from the copyright holders concerned. 




The Independent Living Funds
PO Box 7525


0845 601 8815


Fax: 0115 945 0948

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