The unusual combination of active local people and accountable councillors has made the way for Hammersmith & Fulham to be the only Council in England to abolish homecare charges, abolish bailiffs for debt, get housing estates back from private developers, and set out to change many other things.
On 20 June 2018 we were thrilled to join the Hammersmith & Fulham Disabled People’s Commission (DPC) as they launched their report and recommendations to transform Council policy affecting disabled residents. Findings include ‘Many say quality of life has gone down‘. They recommend: ‘Make services deliver what disabled residents want’. Read the full DPC report here.
In many boroughs and counties, disabled people are trying to have influence over Council services, with limited and often frustrating results. Tara Flood, chair of the DPC, said that the words ‘consultation’ and ‘co-production’ are often used to describe anything but real co-production (working together with the Council) which they are aiming for. She added that the DPC would see if it works.
Deputy leader Sue Fennimore said that the Council want to do things with people, not to them. She and Steve Cowan, Leader, want H&F to be an example for other Councils. See their press release here: Disabled residents help Hammersmith & Fulham Council revolutionise how it makes decisions
This is very encouraging to people in other boroughs watching H&F closely.
In the discussion, we raised that other Councils should listen to consultation replies, even if they don’t have a Commission as in H&F. In Camden, councillors and senior staff were intent on pushing through increased charges and closures, contrary to community deputations and their own community transport staff.
Not everything is rosy in Hammersmith & Fulham as it is a DWP Universal Credit area. Mr P who brought the Universal Credit severe disability premium legal challenge against the DWP (not the Council), lives there.
At the launch, a man raised that there is no council contingency fund to help people get through gaps in disability benefits. We have checked with Council staff who said that help is available through the Local Support Payments scheme, the application form is on this page. Discretionary Housing Payments are also available.
Background: WinVisible supported Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts (HAFCAC) in their eight-year campaign which won the commitment from the Labour Council (elected in May 2014) to abolish homecare charges from April 2015. The Council also ring-fenced money for independent living transferred after the abolition of the Independent Living Fund.