Disabled women’s fight to survive — Camden New Journal

Image of newspaper article in the Camden New Journal.  Photo with article shows a woman speaking on mic and holding placard: Being a disabled mum is NOT "harm" to children.
WinVisible’s article in the Camden New Journal.

Our local paper, the Camden New Journal, asked for an article for their special edition written by women (18 November 2021). Our colleagues at Women Against Rape contributed: “Women’s safety is not a police priority“, where they highlighted how women’s mental health and other factors are used against us to drop investigations.

We’re glad to be part of the women’s edition. Our article was edited down, below is the full version.

“At the Crossroads Women’s Centre where WinVisible is based, sick and disabled women in Camden and beyond, get together to support each other in our determined struggle to survive.  The cost of living has soared, including special diet and transport.  The £20 a week increase to Universal Credit (UC) needed for food was taken from mums and kids; disabled people and disabled children are taking the government to court for making us poorer on UC compared to previous benefits.

Disabled women of colour are speaking out against the multiple discrimination we face — health inequality, dismissal of Sickle Cell (only now beginning to be addressed), lupus and other conditions, as well as lower incomes.  People needing homecare to get washed and dressed, pay much of our disability benefits over to the Council (see our letter, Scrap these care charges, 28 October). 

Journalists uncovered that Greenwich Council diverted £21 million of Better Care Fund government grants away from social care to general use – then raised care charges.  How many millions did Camden receive and where did it go?  

Councils say they are cash-strapped and cannot implement Section 17 of the Children Act or the Care Act to support mothers, including disabled mothers, and keep children with their family.  But they spend millions on privatised fostering and institutional care which profit from children’s and mothers’ trauma.  

Paid carers, often immigrant women, are exploited by private agencies which find ways to sidestep the living wage.  Only care businesses get wealthy.

The “health and social care levy” is supposed to fund social care.  But raising National Insurance makes the poorest pay, including low earners on UC, to protect the rich from taxation.  The £36 billion levied will be swallowed by privatised NHS services.  Nurses and care assistants will still have to rely on foodbanks.  Not a penny more for unwaged family carers whose workload and number skyrocketed during lockdown, when the government deprioritised social care.  Family carers save the government £132 billion a year; Carer’s Allowance is an insulting £67.60 for a minimum 35 hours a week. 

The “lifetime cap on care charges” so people don’t have to sell their home to pay residential home fees, is a con.  You still pay for your room and board in the care home, which is not considered “care”.  You would have to spend £86,000 just on the care part, to start getting free care. 

While the government has cut social care by £8 billion since 2010, Trident nuclear submarines will end up costing £205 billion. 

People are abandoning waged work at the rate of 600 a day, because they cannot stomach seeing loved ones isolated in institutions, subjected to rushed, rough and impersonal care.  But they are impoverished by choosing compassion. As some of us demanded at COP26, we want a Care Income for all those, of every gender, caring for people and the environment – both we and the planet have been disabled and plundered.  Let’s replace corporate profit-led “care” with respectful and compassionate relationships.”

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