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Shocking figures reveal 'postcode lottery' of care for disabled people in London

Campaigners say the cuts in some areas are 'unacceptable' and people's lives are being put at risk

Mary-Ellen Archer with fellow disabled rights protesters in Hounslow High Street

Disabled people in London face a "postcode lottery" when it comes to care, with funding packages in some boroughs cut for more than half of recipients.

The vast differences in the level of support available for disabled people depending on where in the capital they live are exposed in a new report by the charity Inclusion London.

In Hounslow, the report shows, 59% of people who were receiving payments from the Independent Living Fund (ILF) have seen their care package cut since it closed in June last year. That is the second highest figure out of 33 London boroughs.

Yet in neighbouring Hammersmith & Fulham, and in nearby Westminster, it reveals, not one person has seen a reduction in the support they receive.

Disabled rights protesters outside the Treaty Centre in Hounslow

 

The ILF was scrapped in June 2015, but the Government said it would ensure local authorities received sufficient funding to maintain the same level of care for former recipients.

However, the money was not ring-fenced and disability campaigners say this has resulted in significant cuts to many people's care.

'Postcode lottery of support simply not acceptable'

The report concludes: "The postcode lottery of support provision this research reveals is simply not acceptable.

"Disabled people's independence, choice and control should not be dependent on the choices, compromises and dealings of local politicians."

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Mary-Ellen Archer is a trustee and chairwoman of the charity Disability Network Hounslow (DNH).

She has the connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes severe pain and requires her to use a wheelchair.

A woman stops to read one of the posters which protesters say highlight the tragic consequences of cutting care for disabled people

 

She said the amount of paid care she receives had been reduced by 46 hours a week since the ILF was abolished.

"This is a life and death situation for many disabled people, as cruel and calculated cuts to benefits and care and support services push us into increasing poverty, destitution and desperation," she said.

'A prisoner in my own home'

"Personally, I will be left housebound, a prisoner in my own home, for six days a week, with not even enough care to use the toilet when I need to: I've been offered incontinence pads instead, which I'm expected to use for up to 12 hours at a time!"

"It is a criminal breach of our human rights to be subjected to such shocking humiliation, impoverishment, degradation and imprisonment."

She urged anyone who had been affected by the cuts and was struggling to cope to call DNH on 020 8577 0956 or to email ceo@disabilitynetworkhounslow.org.

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Ms Archer was with the DNH chairwoman Penny Ledger, who was acting as her carer, when Ms Ledger was recently arrested during a protest at Westminster Bridge against cuts to disability care.

She also joined demonstrators earlier this month in Hounslow High Street, where they stuck photos to lampposts, accompanied by floral tributes, of disabled people they said had died due to funding cuts.

Hounslow Council responds

Councillor Kamaljit Kaur, Hounslow Council's cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: "We assessed all ILF care packages and agreed new support plans for residents. All those who receive care packages are monitored and reviewed.

"If the care needs of our residents change as a result of a review or reassessment, then we will adjust their support plan accordingly."

Has disability care been cut where you live?

Borough Former ILF recipients Number whose funding was reduced Percentage whose funding was reduced Number whose funding was reduced by less than 10%
Brent 63 7 11% 1
Ealing 42 1 2% 1
Hammersmith and Fulham 48 0 0% 0
Harrow 26 1 4% 0
Hillingdon 34 4 12% 0
Hounslow 44 26 59% 7
Kensington and Chelsea 30 N/A N/A N/A
Westminster 21 0 0% 0
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