Council unveils plan to scrap home care charges

Home care charges for older and disabled people are due to be abolished in Hammersmith and Fulham, west London, as a result of planned budget cuts to other council departments.

The council, which returned to Labour control in May from the Conservatives, announced its intention to scrap the £12 per hour charge at a public meeting last week.

There are currently 1266 people in the borough who require home care services, 313 of which pay the hourly charge.

The abolition of charges will cost the local authority £324,000 a year in lost income, but this is being funded by £400,000 worth of cuts to public relations, council publications and lamp post banners. It would put the council in a small minority in England who do not charge for home care.

Council leader Stephen Cowan said: “I am pleased we have found the money from back office cuts and can today announce that this administration will abolish what has rightly become known as a tax on disability.”

The decision will also mark the end of a difficult battle for local disability campaigners, who have campaigned for eight years to see the so-called “tax on disability” abolished.

Kevin Caulfield, chair of the Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts group, said: “Every other non-disabled 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.”

The final decision will be made at the council’s annual budget review in February and if approved, the changes will take effect from April 2015.

Story courtesy of Community Care