Adults with a disability or mental illness are receiving extra care bills running into thousands of pounds that they say could force them to cut back on food and heating and threaten their social independence.
Amid a care funding crisis which was caused by the Tory’s national underfunding of social care, some English councils are quietly increasing charges to people with learning disabilities and mental illness, in effect clawing back welfare payments.
A council spokesperson said: “Our charging arrangements follow national guidance and are based on an individual assessment of a person’s financial circumstances. We have asked people to contact us if they will find it difficult to pay so we can work with them on an individual basis.” It’s not difficult to imagine how the council’s ‘individual assessment’ will turn out.
A parent in Staffordshire said their family had been hit with a backdated bill exceeding £20,000 for their adult children with learning disabilities.
West Sussex county council, said that while it had previously charged working-age care recipients less than Whitehall rules allowed, increases were now necessary because of “decreased funding from central government”.
Also in Staffordshire, a young adult with complex learning difficulties who needs round-the-clock care was sent a bill demanding he pay £88 a week towards the costs, equivalent to £4,500 a year. It has to be taken from his universal credit payments and leaves him with just £25 a week for other expenses.
David Jones, 60, lives alone in West Sussex with bipolar disorder, which 10 years ago rendered him unable to work.
The former newspaper subeditor relies on two hours of support a week to help him keep his flat in order but is facing an increase in his contribution for this from £40 to £151 a month. The money would have to come from his personal independence payment (Pip) and would take up a third of that budget. He said that would leave him choosing between “heating and eating” and it would affect his budget so much that he will have to consider putting down his 14-year-old dog, Megan, which he said would be “beyond awful”.