Kirkcaldy man demands apology after winning three-year social care bill fight

A disabled Kirkcaldy man who refused to pay a bill for home care he claimed he did not receive has won his three-year fight with the council.

Alan Smith (55) alleged he was ”harassed” by Fife Council’s social work service for £3,231.25, despite maintaining the figure was wildly inaccurate.

His upset was compounded when he received another bill from the local authority for £2,455 to cover services received between April and August this year.

However, the council has agreed to cancel the invoices and, after an assessment, will charge £12.50 per week — far less than the £129.50 originally imposed.

Mr Smith has demanded an apology from social work executive director Stephen Moore and committee chairman Tim Brett.

Mr Smith, who suffers from hereditary spastic paraplegia and uses a mobility scooter, disputed the council’s assessment of the hours of care he receives.

Despite support from Campaign Against Charges and Cuts (CACC), he said the long-running dispute had caused him considerable stress.

Mr Smith said: ”I’m happy it’s been sorted out at long last but it’s been frustrating to wait three years for it to happen. It was very frustrating and annoying, although I’ve always been satisfied with my care.”

CACC said that since November 2008 Mr Smith has received demand letters, final notices, intimidating phone calls and letters threatening court action.

Spokeswoman Maureen Closs said: ”It seems to Alan and to CACC that managers have lost sight of the main issue, which is that he is a service user who, by virtue of his disabilities, requires both personal care and housing support.

”To have placed him in a state of constant fear and alarm is unforgivable.”

She added: ”Unlike most clients who receive only one week of monitoring their service to determine actual input by carers, Alan has been on constant monitoring since April of this year.

”This is not commonplace and social work have confirmed that only five other clients in Fife have this because they pay high rates of charges and any change in service could cost them a lot.”

Ms Closs said: ”Alan is different in that he is on a much lower charge because of his income and a variation in service would not alter the amount he would be required to pay.

”Alan has very much resented having this done and believes this is his retribution for having stayed firm until proper procedures were implemented. He also considers it to be drain on social work resources.”

Monitoring sheets showed Mr Smith received on average fewer than four and a half hours of home care per week, not the nine hours first claimed by the council.

Ms Closs said: ”Alan has been paying his charges since August of this year at the rate of £12.50 per week and feels relieved that it is all over.

”He has great respect for the carers who work with him. His fight has always been with senior management who have caused him many sleepless nights.”

Adult services manager Helen Townsend said: ”Although an offer of a financial assessment was made at a much earlier date, the social work service were not able to carry this out due to a number of matters raised by Mr Smith and CACC over a long period of time.

”It is unfortunate that this happened, however matters have now been resolved satisfactorily.”