A package of controversial new charges due to be imposed upon services for disabled people in Greenwich will be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter circulated to residents on Tuesday, Greenwich Council said it would push back the fee increase until at least September due to the wholesale uncertainty arising from the deadly flu.

“Due to the current and rapidly changing situation with coronavirus, the Council has taken the decision to postpone planned changes to social care contributions which were agreed by the Council cabinet in January,” the authority states.

“We recognise that this is a stressful time for people who have social care needs and therefore this is not the right time to make such a change.

“During this period Council staff are focusing on making sure that essential services are maintained to older and disabled people with care and support needs, and that they are available to provide advice and support.”

Although the letter states the new charges would be postponed until at least September, the council didn’t rule out pushing the changes further back, with the authority to review the situation in July.

It comes after the moves were given full approval by council members last month.

The changes, which would see the council introduce a package of new charges aimed at clawing back £1.6m in spiralling adult social care costs, form part of the authority’s budget plans for the forthcoming financial year.

However, the delay has been welcomed by disability advocacy group Inclusion London, who acknowledged it would bring some relief to residents in the borough.

“It is important that in this difficult time all local authorities devote their resources and staff to supporting disabled people,” Svetlana Kotova, Inclusion London’s Director of Justice and Campaigns, told the local democracy reporting service. 

“Charging for social care is a tax on disability and we believe those changes should not have been brought in first place. But this decision will go some way (to allaying fears)”.