Birmingham Council has announced plans to cut care services to save £33.2m by increasing eligibility thresholds. This will mean five thousand people in the city losing vital support. Cuts include the closure of six older people’s residential homes, increased charges for personal care, and the loss of skilled care workers as services become increasingly reliant on lower paid casual staff. A recent Panorama on the abuse of disabled residents at the Castlebeck unit showed the horrific results of providing social care on the cheap through privatised companies. Yet now the council is also proposing to privatise social work services using social enterprises. This will mean social work is turned into a business and workers forced to compete for contracts.
In addition many of those affected by cuts, disabled people and those with severe and terminal medical conditions, are also being forced to undergo‘work capability assessments’ and declared fit for work by the hated multinational Atos Origin which will profit from an outsourced £300 million government contract. This system has already led several claimants to commit suicide.
However, care service users and social and care workers are increasingly questioning why they should pay for a crisis caused not by them but by bankers. And so care staff and their unions in Birmingham are joining forces with disabled people to save our services and campaign against these discriminatory cuts.
In May a High Court judge ruled Birmingham council’s plans were unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act and these cutback plans were put on hold. This is a fantastic victory but will only be the start of the fight back necessary. To build on this a joint campaign has been launched involving West Midlands SWAN, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Birmingham City Unison, Birmingham Against the Cuts and the Right to Work campaign. We are planning a month of action in July against austerity measures in Birmingham to coincide with the first UK monitoring report of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Activities will include a lobby of the first full council meeting since the election at 5pm on 5th July, a public meeting on 20th July.
What you can do:
Tuesday 5th July from 5pm – LOBBY Birmingham Council – Lobby of the first full Birmingham council meeting since the election – assemble Victoria Square, Birmingham
Wednesday 20th July 630pm – 830pm – Public Meeting: Hands Off Our Care & Support Services – speakers from SWAN, Disabled People Against Cuts, Birmingham Unison, Birmingham Against the Cuts and Right to Work. Venue: Transport House – Unite (TGWU) Offices, 211 Broad Street, Birmingham B15
Pamphlet – Hands Off Our Care & Support Services campaign is producing a pamphlet about the cuts and what we can do to stop them – watch this space.
We invite you to join us in demanding better public services for service users, carers, support workers and social workers, not more cuts and marketization.
For more info email: firstname.lastname@example.org