Money recovered from disabled parents in Brighton and Hove

Parents of children with disabilities have spoken out after Brighton and Hove City Council requested back money paid to families to fund essential help and support.

Families received less than a week’s notice that any six weeks’ worth of “direct payments” would be returned to the “redistribution” council.

Labor MP for Hove Peter Kyle said he would raise the issue in Parliament after two families contacted him about the recoveries.

They lost money they had saved to pay personal assistants so they could take their children on vacation.

Mr Kyle said: “The first thing to say is that the letter the families received about it was so impersonal it pierced me.

“It’s a big deal for families. The removal of the money is a problem. The cold method is different.

“I join them in saying that disabled people are constantly being asked to make sacrifices ‘because of budget cuts’.

“This is unacceptable and I am taking it to the highest level of government.”

The Argus: Peter Kyle MP has commented on this issuePeter Kyle MP has commented on this issue

The letters from the council were dated Saturday October 15, but the families received their copies two weeks later. All were the same except where the children’s names and the amounts of money were written on them.

The letters state: “We know that direct payments are really important to support families at home, but we need to make the most of any funds available for direct payments and that his money is shared fairly, used as needed and as agreed.”

“The Council is under financial pressure from government cuts and it is our duty to ensure the money is used as effectively as possible.”

The letter said the money would flow back into the budget to support families in need.

The managing director of specialist Brighton charity Amaze, Sally Polanski, said the Parent Carers’ Council (Pacc) is collecting feedback to pass on to the council – and that representatives from Pacc are meeting with council officials to discuss the situation.

Amaze informs, advises and supports families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

She said: “This is worrying and the timing is particularly challenging given the broader context where families are under immense pressure and the welfare system is struggling.”

Three mothers who asked not to be identified have spoken out about the clawbacks.

The first said she was shocked to find the money she had saved for a family holiday had been “looted” after receiving a letter on Friday October 28.

She built up the “surplus” – which was removed on Sunday October 30 – as she struggled to find a personal assistant for her son, who cannot speak and has complex needs.

His money goes towards a personal assistant, holiday clubs and afternoon clubs when they are available.

All that remained after the council called for her son’s money back were a week and a half’s worth of payments – rather than the six weeks described in the letter.

She said: “Prior to the letter I received, I was never made aware of any rules regarding a six-week overage.

“In fact I have contacted our local Citizens Advice and they are trying to find information on the website citing the excess said and so far have found nothing.

“Mine is not the only family affected. Many, many families have contacted Pacc and Amaze demanding an explanation.

“I’ve been on the phone with my Direct Payments clerk since Monday and haven’t received a reply to date.”

The Argus: The Council has drawn criticism from familiesThe council has been criticized by families

Another mother, whose daughter has autism, cannot speak, is on a feeding tube and has chronic lung disease, said she paid for nine hours of respite care a week but built up a surplus during the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “Instead of saying, ‘Use what’s built up,’ they steal it from us. I got the letter on October 31st that the money will be picked up that day.

“I booked a holiday courtesy of the family fund and was hoping to bring a personal assistant so I could take it out and get things done with my son to have a good time.

“I would also like to use it for respite care because my daughter had a week off before and during the semester. I was only able to go out twice when she was quiet but I needed more as I can’t even go shopping.

“It was given to our children for a reason. I don’t think they should take it. There are so many things it could be spent on.”

A third mother, who has three children, two of them with autism and learning disabilities, built up a surplus in her son’s account as he shielded himself during the pandemic.

After receiving the letter, she was left with £300. She said: “They said they would take the rest away on the pretext that the money would be used to help other children, which I think is a complete fabrication.

“The money was allocated to my son. Social welfare is currently not effective. We were told he might have a monthly rest in July. Five months later we are still waiting but they don’t allow us to hire a personal assistant.”

Brighton and Hove City Council has been asked for an opinion.

Amaze said families needing advice or support could contact the advice center on 01273 772289.

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23115947.money-clawed-back-disabled-parents-brighton-hove/?ref=rss Money recovered from disabled parents in Brighton and Hove

Fry Electronics Team

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