Councillors labelled ‘murderers’ by furious onlookers as Greenwich votes to increase adult social care charges

A town hall has voted to increase adult social care charges at an emotional committee hearing where councillors were threatened with legal action and called “murderers”.

The cost of care could increase by as much as 30 per cent for some Greenwich residents.

The changes include plans to increase the hourly rate for homecare services by £1.65, to end subsidised community meals and start charging users of the emergency contact Telecare system on housing benefits £6 a week.

The decisions were branded by attendees as “an attack on the most vulnerable in society,” and “a tax on disabled people”.

The controversial decision from Greenwich council, takes at a heated meeting on Wednesday night, followed 15 months of consultations and protests by residents against the proposals, but the cabinet committee voted unanimously in favour of the changes.

“How does it feel like being a murderer?” Fred Williams, a wheelchair user, asked councillors.

“The stress of these proposals will lead to some people killing themselves which will be your responsibility. There will be a high development of people with mental health issues.

“And you will be taken to court by me,” he added.

The councillors said some proposals would be implemented under review, which could be withdrawn if they were seen to not be working.

Sue Elsegood, chairwoman of Metro-GAD, the Greenwich Association of Disabled People, said: “An extra charge of £6 a week for Telecare is a drop in the ocean for people earning £30,000 or £35,000.

“But to somebody on £90 a week, which is what you are condemning us to live on in many cases, it is more than five per cent of our weekly income.

“And you will be forcing us to make impossible choices. For example between essential money for Telecare and money for food, heat or personal assistance support.

“Not only do disabled people rarely earn the colossal salaries that you might, our cost of living is also far higher than for a non-disabled person, and through absolutely no fault of our own.

“All our life we have just had to grin and bear it – and you are now proposing to kick us while we are down.

“I feel totally disappointed. The council won’t take on board our response and I feel really concerned for the welfare of disabled people in the borough.

“Why are they putting the proposals through just to see if that happens?”

Speaking about the decision, Jenny Hurst, another wheelchair user and resident, said she was “absolutely gutted” and that it was the “wrong decision”.

Cabinet members who spoke at the meeting said austerity policies and reduced funding from central government had driven their decision.

Councillor Jane Smith said: “If we don’t balance our books the government will come and take us over. Please don’t think we take this decision lightly.”

Leader of Greenwich council, Danny Thorpe, said: “Austerity has had a massive impact and it’s a massive challenge to balance the books.

“Ten years ago we would have had more than £100m more for social services than we do today, which in real terms means there is £1,400 less per household in Greenwich.

“So that’s the challenge and that’s where these proposals have come from.”

Pictured top are protesters outside Woolwich Town Hall on Tuesday night

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