Pensioner Vows To Continue Battle Over Council’s Home Care Cuts

Frail pensioners in Leeds are fighting to save their home help services which the city council has decided to withdraw. The pensioners say the cleaning and shopping services are vital in helping them to lead independent lives in their own homes. But council officials have reviewed their cases and decided that, under new national guidelines, they are no longer eligible for council-provided home care services.

Council chiefs say thousands of cases in Leeds are being reviewed after the Government said it wanted local authorities to concentrate their resources on those people with the greatest needs.

Pensioners whose needs are judged less critical are being “signposted” to the voluntary sector.
And over the next three years the council is to provide voluntary groups with an extra £900,000 to help them provide more care services.

But John Barbour, of Burmantofts, a 72-year-old retired council worker who suffers from heart problems and diabetes, is fighting to have his council home care services restored.

His appeal against the decision to cut his services was unsuccessful and he is now pursuing the matter through the social services department’s formal complaints procedure. Mr Barbour, who uses a stairlift and has a seat in his shower, said: “I manage to shop and cook but I got two hours a month to help with harder, more vigorous work like cleaning the floors and skirting boards and turning my mattress.

“It’s an outrage that this is happening to me and many others and I shall fight it all the way.”

Because of his financial circumstances Mr Barbour got his services free.

He said: “The council did give me a list of possible alternative providers but they want to charge £10 per hour or more and I cannot afford that.”

Another who has appealed against the withdrawal of services is Cynthia Hill, 73, of Middleton, who used to get one hour a week of home care. Miss Hill, who has a heart condition and also suffers from kidney stones, diabetes and anaemia, said: “I know of a 94-year-old woman and an 84-year-old who have lost services. It’s not right and that’s why I am appealing.”

The YEP recently highlighted the case of heart disease sufferer Edith Allison, 80, of Beeston, who cares for her 43-year-old son who has Down’s Syndrome and who had her home care removed.
In a letter to the YEP, Tim McSharry, head of disability at the Access Committee for Leeds, said: “As an organisation of disabled people, we are continually contacted by older and disabled people and carers whose health and basic human rights are being compromised by the unreasonable and in some cases illegal removal of social and community care support.

“The council is running a coach and horses through the raft of national health and social care legislation that enshrines their duties to provide such essential services.”

Coun Peter Harrand, executive councillor for social services, said: “If Mr McSharry has any evidence of the council acting illegally or unreasonably he should present it to me because that’s an unjustifiable attack on our officers. Similarly if any individuals feel their cases have not been considered properly they can contact me and I will investigate. We are under central Government guidance to use our limited money to help people who need it most.”