Father ‘misled’ after Haringey Council said funding for carers had been cut

Martin Hewitt was incorrectly told his funding would be cut. Photo: Polly Hancock

Martin Hewitt was incorrectly told his funding would be cut. Photo: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The father of an autistic son received false information from Haringey officers who said carers are no longer entitled to “respite” payments to take a break.

Martin Hewitt with his son, Thomas who has autism

Martin Hewitt with his son, Thomas who has autism - Credit: Archant

The mistake was quickly corrected - but carer Martin Hewitt, whose 22-year-old son Thomas has autism and complex needs, fears staff were acting as if the respite payments had already been cut.

Haringey Council are currently consulting on changes which would mean carers would no longer be automatically allowed up to £300 annually to give them relief from their care duties.

These proposals have not yet been debated or signed off on by the council.

Martin Hewitt says two separate Haringey officers told his wife she could no longer receive her respite payments, which she currently puts towards care bills and much-deserved days out.

When Mr Hewitt complained, senior management told him the officers had made a mistake.

Mr Hewitt remains concerned, however, that frontline staff were acting as if the cuts were already in place.

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“It could be a simple mistake,” said the 70-year-old father.

But he added: “It’s happening in the context of the consultation - that’s what’s so worrying.”

“It looks as though they were intending to implement the proposals ahead of time.

“Why have a consultation if they have already decided?”

“We can only assume that anyone else who had rang last week would have been given the same advice.”

Under the proposals, the system of carers’ discretionary direct payments would sometimes be replaced, with Haringey claiming carers will be provided with targeted forms of support instead.

They say there would be increased opportunity for carers’ assessments and support planning to help carers “meet the outcomes that are important to them”, according to new proposals.

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “We’re sorry that one of our carers was provided with incorrect advice concerning discretionary payments. As soon as we were made aware of this mistake we acted swiftly to correct it and would reiterate that our current policy on carers’ support has not changed.”

The carers’ consultation will run until March 29. For more information and to add your views: haringey.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/carers/carers-services-consultation