Council cuts prevent attendance at Aldingbourne Country Centre

AFTER 11 years caring for her sister, who has Down’s syndrome, a mother-of-two has slammed West Sussex County Council for leaving her sister with just £11 per week – and unable to go to a lifeline centre.

Denise Kane with her sister Rachel. Picture by Kate Shemilt. C130505-2
Denise Kane with her sister Rachel. Picture by Kate Shemilt. C130505-2

Denise Kane, of Maplehurst Road, Chichester, has looked after her sister Rachel since she was 19.

Rachel attended the Aldingbourne Country Centre four days a week and has done so for a number of years.

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But a recent finance review by the council means Rachel now has to pay additional money towards attending the centre, on top of what she already pays – meaning she can no longer afford to go.

“I was completely shocked,” said Denise. “I don’t understand how they penalise people for looking after their own family.”

She said the only support she had to look after her sister was the carer’s allowance she received from central government and 90 per cent of this went to the Aldingbourne Country Centre, where Rachel worked in the kitchens.

Previously, the county council did not take any extra money for Rachel to attend the centre, but this changed following a ‘fairer contribution assessment’.

Denise said she did not claim any other form of benefit for Rachel, and supported her herself. All Rachel pays to Denise is £400 per month in rent, which comes from the carer’s allowance.

“After she’s paid her rent to me and after the county council take their money, she’s left with £11 per week,” said Denise.

Because of the increase, Denise said Rachel would no longer be able to attend the centre.

“She’s going to have no social aspects and no friends,” Denise added, saying Aldingbourne played a ‘big part’ in Rachel’s life and that without attending the centre she would be left with little to do.

She has asked how the council can justify taking the extra money.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said the council hoped Rachel could continue to attend the centre, saying it had helped her develop independent living skills and social skills.

He added fairer contribution assessment was based on an assessment of people’s income rather than their care needs.

“We believe this is a fair policy at a time when funding is so tight,” he said.