Public interest news: Greenwich diverted £21m funds away from social care before charges hike

A deputation of disabled women and men, half are wheelchair users, inside Greenwich Town Hall.  Holding WinVisible and DPAC banners.  Placards say: Care charges = violence against women.  We want free homecare as in Hammersmith & Fulham.  Stop disabling us with social care cuts.  Stop the charges!
Metro-GAD, WinVisible, DPAC and others at Greenwich Town Hall in January 2020 about to testify to press councillors not to raise our homecare charges. Photo: Lachlan Leeming, BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service

THANK YOU 853 London news for breaking this story. This shows that Greenwich had previously diverted £21m of the government Better Care Fund away from social care, then increased charges from our disability benefits to squeeze another £1.6m from disabled residents. (The Better Care Funds from government are meant for support in the community so people can be discharged home from hospital sooner, and for more support in the community so people’s health is maintained.)

In July 2019, WinVisible sent an Open Letter to the Greenwich consultation on increased charges. In it, Greenwich resident Kate Brown said:

“I became a wheelchair user after I was stabbed in a homophobic attack which resulted in a stroke three days later. I am now a pensioner and benefits are my only income. I pay £65 care charges per week, and with the changes RBG 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.  I still get Disability Living Allowance as I was born in 1948. DLA is made up of a mobility component and care component. The mobility component is paid totally to Motability to pay for my wheelchair accessible car. The care component is £87.65 which RBG says I have to pay £65 of, towards my PA’s wages each week, leaving me with £22.65 to pay for any extra help I might need. If RGB increase my contribution I will have NO DLA at all.” This has largely happened to her now, including the increase in Telecare fees.

853 says: “Activists tried in vain to stop the council from implementing the cuts.”

Kate and other severely disabled women & men, who gave what 853 called “harrrowing details” of poverty from charges, were gobsmacked when councillors unanimously voted for the increases. But we had seen Camden councillors do the same in 2017 when they agreed higher charges, despite a big community campaign. We are supporting a Camden woman cancer patient hit by extortionate charges which started at £116 per week. Camden is taking the PIP.

Read more on 853 London, 5 November 2021:

NHS bosses threatened Greenwich Council with auditors over social care cuts

‘Smoke and mirrors’ hide cuts hitting Greenwich’s most vulnerable people

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