In light of the government’s recent announcements, signalling a steep rise in coronavirus cases across London accompanied by an increase in hospital admissions we are writing to highlight several issues that have come to our attention over recent weeks.
It is incredibly disappointing to learn that Greenwich Council has gone ahead with its decision to increase social care charges despite the awful impact of covid-19 on Deaf and Disabled people. The coronavirus pandemic has hit disabled people hard and also exposed and amplified the long-standing structural inequalities and discrimination that Deaf and Disabled people have experienced. The dreadful disparities are reflected in the grim and tragic data recently released by the Office for National Statistics, which revealed that two in three people who have died from coronavirus are disabled.
In this harsh environment, it is inexcusable that Greenwich Council has implemented its plans to increase charges which will inevitably lead to more unnecessary pain and misery for many Greenwich residents. Public health and social care teams in Greenwich are undoubtedly aware of an increase in risk a ‘second wave’ will have on disabled people who disproportionately experience socioeconomic inequalities, poverty, debt, unemployment, and food insecurity.
Surveys and research have revealed that many Disabled people have faced increased costs since the outbreak of the pandemic. People are being forced to spend more money on food, by having to shop in more expensive supermarkets or high street shops or order food deliveries online which are often accompanied by a delivery charge. As autumn and winter descend many will face higher utility charges and some will face the unenviable choice of having to decide between heating the home and putting food on the table.
We are also concerned that Greenwich council is taking away increases in benefits service users have received since April in the form of care charges. Finally, service users in Greenwich are telling us that the council is engaging in ‘cold call’ care reviews. In other words, not giving any notice, or an appointment time which means Disabled people are unable to prepare or arrange advocacy and support and therefore undermining choice, control and independent living.
We have been contacted by one Greenwich resident whose care package has been reduced during the lockdown as she is not going out. Moreover, her care charges were increased with a warning that will be another increase in September. She received no information on Disability Related Expenditure and now feels that she has no choice but to stop all care in September.
Another resident was admitted to the hospital and sent home with no care even though she was assessed as needing it. She was told that the care would be free for six weeks. She was shocked, therefore, to receive a hefty bill and so she stopped her care package.
In light of the awful consequences of covid-19, it is unfair and unjust that Greenwich council is taxing disabled people to make up for central government revenue shortfalls and inexcusable in the current environment that it has gone ahead with its plans to increase social care charges.
* Anne Novis MBE, Chair Inclusion London, Greenwich DPAC, and Greenwich Direct Payment recipient
* Sue Elsegood, Metro Gad Management Committee
* Eleanor Lisney, Greenwich DPAC, Direct Payment recipient
* Claire Glassman, WinVisible.
* Jenny Hurst, Greenwich DPAC and Direct Payment recipient
* Jon Abrams, Inclusion London
* John Ley, Metro Gad Management Committee
* Yannick Nyah, SEN Parent & BME Volunteers CIC Director
* Kate Brown (Direct Payment recipient)