Disabled-led commission in Lewisham demands local power

Fri,12 May 2023
News Equality & Rights Housing Money
After a three-year inquiry into the barriers Disabled people face, Lewisham Disabled People's Commission (LDPC) has called for changes so that Disabled people are at the centre of local decision-making. 

The detailed and insightful report was written following an extensive interview process in which they asked more than 400 Disabled people in Lewisham about their lives. It found that the local Disabled community wanted more say in the decisions Lewisham Council makes and that Disabled people in Lewisham want the council to listen to them and treat them fairly. 

The report, titled 'If not now, when?' covers 40 different barriers that prevent Disabled people from living the lives that they want to. It unearthed shocking statistics, including: 

  • One in five respondents didn't always have access to food and drink. 

  • One in five respondents cannot wash (or be washed) regularly. 

  • One in five respondents couldn't go to the toilet when needed. 

  • One in ten respondents didn't have a toilet at home they could use. 

  • One in four respondents didn't have a bath or shower at home they could use. 

  • One in three respondents couldn't move around their home easily using the mobility aids they needed. 

The report requested a commitment not to allow local benefit deductions or charges for adult social care to take people below the UK poverty line. And for the borough's future strategy to be guided by a commitment to the principle that social care should be free at the point of access and to make changes to reduce the burden of adult social care charging. 

The report asks for funding to set up a new Disabled people's Organisation (DPO) in Lewisham and to create a new post for a Disabled person to lead co-production in the borough. The idea is that the new DPO would then co-produce an independent living strategy and an access strategy for Lewisham to benefit local Disabled people. 

Speaking to Disability News Service about the commission, the commission's chair Jamie Hale, a disabled writer, poet, and campaigner, said: 

 "For disabled people to live in an equitable world, we need benefits that keep pace with wages and inflation, access to free social care built around independent living and the support people need to achieve their aspirations, and a real commitment to a national programme of building accessible, adaptable, and adapted homes." 

You can find the full report, alongside and easy read version, on Lewisham council's website here.