A DROITWICH woman has spoken out over her concerns for people caring for family members with disabilities, after a six year battle with Worcestershire County Council to receive the right benefits for her son with Down’s Syndrome.
Diana Rogers, 72, who cares for her 29-year-old son Danny at their home on a working farm just outside Droitwich, was informed in 2008 that due to budget cuts, he would be receiving lower benefits.
The reduction over the subsequent years has made it financially impossible to afford full-time care from outside the family.
Since then, Mrs Rogers has been fighting to clarify exactly what her son is entitled to, and she says she has faced a wall of misinformation, constant re-assessments and indecipherable finances from Worcestershire County Council.
She said: “I don’t know how much it’s cost us, I haven’t added it up. We had to make up the money from our own, but when you see someone who’s defrauded the council I think ‘how the heck did they get away with that?’ the things I’ve had to produce.
“I’ve had to get letters from my doctor to say Danny has Down’s Syndrome. Someone from the council asked me ‘will he get better?’ It beggars belief that people don’t understand.”
Mrs Rogers has estimated that the drop in benefits for her son currently means that he can only pay someone £3 an hour for the 112 hours of care he requires each week.
She added: “They’re saying I can’t be paid for looking after Danny, but I can’t get anyone else to work as cheaply as I do. I feel like the council has been taking advantage of me for a few years.
“We’re independent. We like to get on with things and not be running for help, this is the only help I’ve ever asked for with Danny, so I’m motivated that we hang onto the funding or increase the funding because we’re struggling.”
Mrs Rogers eventually sought help in her dealing with the council from independent advocacy service Onside Lifelinks.
Katy McDermott from the service, said: “The council haven’t got the budget right for a long period now, and we’re struggling to get clarity. They appear to have put it right now, but we’re still arguing about outstanding payments for the years its been wrong.
“It’s been impossible for Diana to work that out and she runs seven businesses, she’s capable of working out figures, but she just hasn’t received the information from the council for her to do that."
Councillor Sheila Blagg, cabinet member for adult social care at Worcestershire County Council, said: "It is inappropriate to discuss individual cases. However, a quarter of people receive a direct payment to help fund their care and support in the community, which they manage themselves or with assistance.
"The county council provides support for people through a separate organisation, Penndel's and funds an independent advocacy service, which we are pleased appears to have been useful in this circumstance. For the majority of people the system works well. If people are experiencing difficulties or if we make a mistake the county council will always seek to put things right as quickly as possible."