Controversial new charges on services for disabled people in Greenwich borough will be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter circulated to residents yesterday, Greenwich Council said it would push back the fee increase until at least September due to the uncertainty arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Due to the current and rapidly changing situation with coronavirus, the council has taken the decision to postpone planned changes to social care contributions which were agreed by the cabinet in January,” the letter states.
“We recognise that this is a stressful time for people who have social care needs and therefore this is not the right time to make such a change.
During this period council staff are focusing on making sure that essential services are maintained to older and disabled people with care and support needs, and that they are available to provide advice and support.”
Although the letter states the new charges would be postponed until at least September, the council did not rule out pushing the changes further back. It will review the situation in July.
Councillors rubber-stamped the charges last month after they were approved by the council’s ruling cabinet. The new charges are aimed at clawing back £1.6m in spiralling adult social care costs and form part of the council’s budget plans for the forthcoming financial year.
The delay has been welcomed by the disability advocacy group Inclusion London, who acknowledged it would bring some relief to residents.
“It is important that in this difficult time all local authorities devote their resources and staff to supporting disabled people,” Svetlana Kotova, Inclusion London’s director of justice and campaigns, said.
“Charging for social care is a tax on disability and we believe those changes should not have been brought in first place. But this decision will go some way to allaying fears.”
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Lachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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