Winning free homecare in Hammersmith & Fulham

H&F 2008 high court vigil charges
Outside the High Court with HAFCAC colleagues in 2008

Campaigners in Hammersmith & Fulham
win free homecare!

Congratulations to Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Cuts (HAFCAC) – disabled and older people win free homecare!

HAFCAC won the commitment from the recently-elected Labour council to abolish homecare charges – a “tax on disability” — from April 2015, paid for by cutting the council’s PR budget.  People are hopeful that also, for homecare workers, the London living wage will be guaranteed, going against zero-hour contracts and also improving quality of care.  We can all use this to press our local councils – yes, they can make it free without cutting people in need!

Kevin Caulfield, Chair of HAFCAC, said:
We have campaigned hard for eight years against this unfair tax on disabled people just for having our needs met. Every other non-disabled Hammersmith & Fulham resident would view it as an absolute violation of their human rights if they had to pay an invoice from the council before they could use the toilet, get washed and engage in day to day activities. We are over the moon to have a Council that now understands that”.

YouTube video of the announcement at a packed meeting:

Council press release

WinVisible supported the legal challenge in 2008-9 brought by Debbie Domb, Dulce Sobral and Moses Bushiwa (see photo).  This focussed on how homecare charges discriminate against women (the majority of homecare users, especially older women), disabled people and people of colour.

Debbie says: “I was one of the people who took the Conservative council to court in 2008, over their reintroduction of homecare charging after an explicit manifesto pledge not to. The case went all the way to appeal, but ultimately was lost. We were disproportionately affected by cuts disguised as ‘efficiencies’ in Cameron’s favourite borough, as policies were road-tested prior to being rolled out nationwide. Because HAFCAC was a self-funding grassroots campaign group we weren’t beholden to anyone, so were able to develop good working relationships with various organisations including the Labour group in opposition on the council. The announcement on 3 December that homecare charging would be abolished, marks another development in that relationship. H&F is no longer a borough that puts disabled residents last.”

WinVisible adds: Only two councils in England do not charge, the other is Tower Hamlets.  In Camden, the Labour council are implementing more cuts, and bill us for homecare before people have had a chance to send in their disability expenses – this contravenes Dept of Health rules which say that each person’s individual expenses should be taken into account before charging.  We’ll use the victory in H&F to challenge Camden‘s charges.

HAFCAC and WinVisible together have opposed acceptance of charging by disability and older people’s organisations, opposing their support for the Care Act’s lifetime £72,000 “cap on charges”.  The Care Act widens the policy that everyone should pay for their own care; increases privatisation & brings other changes which undermine the Welfare State.  The cap on charges does nothing to end homecare charges from our disability benefits.


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