Funding cut hits Neil hard

A DISABLED man fighting to live an independent life has had his funding cut by social services.

Cruel cuts mean that Neil Simmons can only visit Rye’s ARRCC activity and respite centre once a week instead of three times.

The crushing blow has left him feeling isolated and upset.

Neil, 45, who lives alone at Westfield, has suffered from cerebral palsy since he was a child and uses a wheelchair.

He has been involved with ARRCC since the charity was formed in 1998 and serves on it’s board of directors.

Neil describes ARRCC as a lifeline: “All my friends are at ARRCC. If this were taken away from me I would have nothing to do all day. I would end up riding around on a bus just to get out of the house. I cannot even use the village shop here as it does not have a disabled access.

“I have been hammered for 40 percent of my support package. I have tried talking to and writing to social services but they are not interested. I feel as if I am dog’s mess on the bottom of their shoe.

“ARRCC is an essential part of the quality of my life. The funding package enables me to live independently yet they cut the support I get at home to two blocks of three hours a week.

“When you are in a wheelchair and have to travel into Hastings to use the supermarket a three hour block can go on just one shopping trip.”

Irna Mortlock, from ARRCC, said: “This place is a family for people. In many cases it is all they have got. ARRCC opens a massive number of doors. It has enabled Neil to try horse carriage driving near Woodchurch.

“ARRCC is about opening doors and developing a quality of life that people would not otherwise have.”

Neil said: “Adult social services in East Sussex holds ARRCC up as a flagship model for helping people to remain independent and yet it is cutting the funding of users.

“I feel as though I am being punished for fighting to be independent.

“It is not easy trying to win this fight but I am doing it for other people, not just me.

“Someone has to speak out and it may as well be me.”

Adult social services at East Sussex County Council said that it could not comment on individual cases but said: ““We want people to live as independently as they can with the care and support they need. We provide financial support for those that are eligible and they get allocated a ‘personal budget’. This takes into account an individual’s own financial resources. This is a national policy and means that people are supported in choosing how their care services are provided and delivered to them. They have more say and control and can decide how best to meet their own care needs from the money that is available”.

They added: “When someone has care needs they are assessed - both for the level of care they require and their financial position.

“This is required legally so that those who can afford it either pay for or make a contribution to the cost. As a result of these assessments a person may be given a ‘personal budget’ which is an amount of money allocated to them by adult social care.

“They may get the money directly or it is used to fund a service. The individual decides themselves how the personal budget is spent. The personal budget takes account of their needs of course, and their financial resources.

“Individuals can also top-up their personal budget if they wish. This is national government policy and anyone who has assets over £23,250 does not receive any financial help although will be given advice, support and signposted to relevant organisations.