The announcement this week from Hammersmith and Fulham’s recently elected Labour council that they will honour their manifesto commitment to scrap home care charging for older and disabled people marks the end of a hard won battle fought by local disabled campaigners Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts (hafcac).
The announcement was made at an event celebrating International Day of Disabled People organised in partnership between HF council and local Disabled People’s Organisations including hafcac, Action on Disability and HF Mencap Safetynet People First.
Council leader Steve Cowan told a room packed full of disabled people and our allies: “The current charge for home care is a tax on disability. There are 1,231 people in H&F who need help with everyday tasks that others take for granted, such as having a bath or doing the shopping. That help is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. In a civilised society, I believe home care is something people shouldn’t have to pay for.”
Joining the event to celebrate the victory from the Public Law Project was Ravi Low-Beer who represented members of hafcac when they took a legal challenge against the introduction of home care charging by the previous HF council administration on the grounds that that the equality impact on disabled people, women and BME residents had not been sufficiently considered. The challenge was ultimately lost but placed the issue firmly on the local political agenda leading to the HF Labour group’s manifesto commitment to end charging if elected.
Kevin Caulfield, Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts (HAFAC) 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 HF 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”.
For the HF Council press release please go to: www.lbhf.gov.uk/Directory/News/Tax_on_Disability_to_be_abolished.asp#3
To watch video footage from the event including the minute the announcement was made see below or go to: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1h4TYge0mf0