Fear of increase in charges for care for the disabled sparks fury at Woolwich Town Hall meeting

BY JAMES TWOMEY
james@slpmedia.co.uk

A town hall has deferred a decision to increase care charges for disabled people.

Greenwich council decided on Tuesday of last week to delay a decision on proposals which would see costs increase for vulnerable and disabled adults in the borough.

Some of the council’s proposals include plans to increase the hourly rate for homecare services by £4.15, increase the cost of community meals by 70p, remove the weekly cap on care charges and start charging Telecare users on housing benefits £6 per week.

But a few minutes into the meeting at Woolwich Town Hall, the leader of the council, Danny Thorpe, told protesters that the decision would be deferred to the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel team, and it’s claimed by protesters that they were not allowed to officially speak at the meeting.

After an alleged heated exchange between council members and protesters, the council members abandoned the meeting.

Anne Novis, a Greenwich resident, service user affected by social care charging proposals, had said: “You are torturing us. You are torturing us. We have been through this for five months now.

We are so stressed, so anxious, suicidal about all this and you won’t even listen to us and we have made the effort to come here and speak to you politely.”

Kate Brown, a wheelchair user and member of disability campaign group, Winvisible, also said: “I am now a pensioner and benefits are my only income. I pay £65 care charges per week, and with the changes Greenwich want to make, this could increase to £105 per week or more.

“This sounds overdramatic, but if I had to cut down to pay the extra, it would be on food, or the clothes and bedding that I need as I am double incontinent.

“The cuts have made a great deal of difference to my family, not just to me. My son and grandson’s lives have drastically changed since the loss of my carer.”

Disability support organisation, Inclusion London, said the following day: “We were shocked and disappointed that Greenwich council at first decided not to listen to the voices and experiences of local disabled people.

“Our view is that social care charges must be scrapped as they undermine disabled people’s human right to independent living.

“More and more research is illustrating how care charges are pushing disabled people into deeper poverty and forcing some to make unenviable choices between heating and eating.”

A Greenwich council spokeswoman said: “Our decision to review the current charges for adult social care services is not one that has been taken lightly.

“Since 2010 our funding has reduced by a staggering £1,400 per household, totalling some £125million, largely as a result of funding that the Government has taken away from us.

“Cuts have consequences and we are having to make impossible decisions as a result.

“At the cabinet meeting on October 22, we decided to defer this item to a future meeting, to allow the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel to conduct pre-decision scrutiny before the next cabinet meeting.

“Despite deferring the meeting, we allowed everyone who wanted to make representations to do so, as we appreciate how difficult it can be for many people, and particularly disabled people, to come out and speak at public meetings.

“We will continue to engage and involve people moving forward.”

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