Aldingbourne Trust supports tenant in fight against social care bills

The Aldingbourne Trust has shown support for one of its tenants who is fighting against increases in his social care bills.

In last week’s Gazette, we reported the concerns of David Jones who lives on his own in a flat in Littlehampton town centre an has bipolar disorder.

The 60-year-old relies on two hours of support a week from Aldingbourne Trust which supports him with his mental health condition.

His personal independence payment (Pip) bills to West Sussex County Council pay for this, but, he said, these are rising from £40 to £151 a month, which ‘he simply cannot afford’.

David Jones, of Littlehampton

David also said he fears he will lose his home and his dog, Megan, will have to go.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Support for people to live independently and have good quality lives is part of an assessment process and it is managed by the county council.

“Three years ago it asked for feedback on proposals to increase charges to people who need social care to the maximum allowed by law. The majority of respondents were opposed to this.

“At the peak of the pandemic, the county council implemented this, resulting in fear, despair and anger for individuals and their families. Some people have been locked down for over a year and they are now facing huge increases in charges for their care – in some cases 20 times more than they were paying.”

David Jones, of Littlehampton, with his dog, Megan

The decision by the county council to increase the charges will result in people deciding they cannot afford social care and their lives will be poorer for it, the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, some local authorities have capped their charges to give people more money to live on, they said.

They went on: “West Sussex are saying they cannot afford not to charge the maximum. Regulators like the Care Quality Commission and groups like the Association of Directors of Adults Services have been sounding alarm bells at the state of social care in England.”

In response, a spokesman for the county council said: “For many years people of working age in West Sussex were able to pay less for their social care services, because we allowed them to keep more of their income for day-to-day living.

“Our charging arrangements follow national guidance and are based on an individual assessment of a person’s financial circumstances.

“All local authorities are facing significant challenges as a result of decreased central government funding and many others have had to increase the amount people pay for social care.

“All community customers were written to in January 2021 to inform them that we would be reviewing their contribution.

“The review has highlighted that while we ask customers to inform us of any change, in many cases this had not happened. Despite this and the changes in people’s income, we have only applied the increase in their social care contributions from January 2021.

“We understand this is a difficult situation and we continue to be there to support customers. 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. We have let all customers know about our dedicated help line with trained specialist financial assessment officers available to help.”