Fearing future for son

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WE have a son aged 51 with a learning disability who was assessed in his early years with a low IQ. This doesn’t change.

Recently he was informed that he has to pay £284.05 per month to towards his care. Evidently he should have been paying something in past years, but due to a clerical error he had not been informed. Later this year his level of disability will be reassessed again and unless his needs are seen as substantial or critical he stands to lose most or all of his support. This includes cooking, managing his expenses, etc. A double whammy!

He thinks that somehow this reduction in income & potentially further support is his fault. He has a work placement at the Aldingbourne Trust for three days which he may lose, He works 1.5 days a week at the Noah’s Ark Animal and Reptile rescue Centre as a volunteer but they are having to close in October. A triple whammy!

How do we explain that these circumstances are in no way his fault?

He can’t read, he can’t write, he can’t reckon money but he can sign his name on a direct debit form or any kind of form that you put in front of him, he trusts people. He has been brought up by a loving family and trust is implicit in his nature, thank God for that.

How can we explain to him that you can’t trust governments to be consistent in their policies. He used to live in a hostel started by local Mencap and managed by local Mencap and funded by WSCC. It was well run and all the residents were very happy. Government in the form of Lady Cumberledge, said that people should be able to choose where they lived, be it a hostel or in a flat/house in the community. Then the policy changed. It was very evident that this was going to cost more. Never mind, WSCC forced it through by the simple expedient of not funding any new residents when someone left the hostel.

We were very doubtful that our son would manage the transition. We were wrong but only because of the wonderful support over the years of the Aldingbourne & Apuldram Centres who care for his work and his residential care. Now, who are the easiest people to hit with cost reductions? The elderly and the disabled of course, no votes here are there?

How do we explain this to my son who has been supported all his life? In his early days he wasn’t entitled to education because he was ESN (educationally subnormal)? Fortunately through parent power and MENCAP that changed and everybody regardless of their ability is entitled to an education up to 19 now.

Do you really believe the crocodile tears of the cabinet member for Social Services, Peter Catchpole, who continually says it was the hardest decision he ever had to make to cut adult Social Service budgets? His own committee did not agree with his decision. Had he not the guts to say “Over my dead body”, let’s see what we can do, let’s not put yet more people into poverty? Why does he not resign?

In a debate in May, the council was asked to pause until alternative provision was put in place for those whose benefits could be cut. There was obviously a three line whip on the Conservative councillors to vote against a pause in the decision. One councillor even made the point after the vote had been taken, that now this was out of the way, they could get on with the real business of the council. This is a matter which should transcend party politics or we will be in danger of aligning ourselves with totalitarian governments, if we don’t look after our elderly and disabled. We know that these are very difficult problems but politicians have not consulted adequately with the professional care community or parents who know that these cuts will not lead to long term savings

We make these points not just for our son but because we know that there are many others in the county who have similar and even greater difficulties - we all fear for the future.

Ian & Rosemary Riddell

Elms Ride, West Wittering