As politicians shrink the state, Rose Fernandes’s life choices dwindle. Her day is sandwiched between caring for her autistic 25-year-old daughter Crystal and her 83-year-old mother, Maria, who suffers from dementia. But since 2010, she has been caught in a whirlwind of cuts, reducing her life to a series of arguments – in and out of lawyers’ offices – to preserve her way of life.
It began two years ago when her local council in Brent, north-west London, said it wanted to reduce the number of hours it would pay a carer to look after her daughter from nine hours a day to just four hours a week. But Fernandes says the day-to-day care for Crystal is constant – she needs to be washed, dressed, fed, taken to the toilet and watched all the time because she is not aware of everyday dangers.