Haringey carers: ‘We weren’t told our funding could be cut’

Carer Vida Black and her 22-year-old son Claude Black, he has autism and challenging behaviour. Vida

Carer Vida Black and her 22-year-old son Claude Black, he has autism and challenging behaviour. Vida has learnt that carers respite - �300 a year is being cut. She used to visit her family in Ghana with this money. She also says Haringey lied about consulting carers about this. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Haringey carers fear they will lose a “respite” payment which they use to go on holiday or take a short break – and say the council is falsely claiming it asked for their views.

Haringey Council is putting forward a new proposal where carers would receive support and advice from an external provider and their direct payments might be cut off.

This means carers could lose the discretionary “respite” payment of up to £300 a year.

But carers say claims they were consulted on the draft proposals are a “big lie”.

Crouch End carer Vida Black looks after her 22-year-old son, Claude, who has autism and challenging behaviour.

She rarely has a full night’s sleep, but has put the discretionary “respite” payments towards a break in Ghana where she stays with her mother for a couple of weeks.

“That’s when I have my respite,” the 56-year-old said.

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“I go to Ghana where I know I’ll be looked after and that’s where I can have my sleep. I go away for two weeks so I have time for myself.”

Haringey’s cabinet put forward a proposal for a new model of support services which it will be putting out to consultation for all those affected on February 11.

The cabinet document says: “Carers have been actively involved in the design of the proposed service model and have already had input to the draft specification.”

But Ms Black, who coordinates Haringey’s carer’s forum, says carers were not consulted.

“It’s a big lie - they haven’t talked to the carers about this - nothing was said. They went behind our backs. We had no idea about this new model. I want to know which of the groups these people spoke to,” she said.

Mary Langan, who is a member of Save Autism Services Haringey, as well as the Learning Disabilities Partnership Board and the Autism Partnership Board agrees carers have not been consulted.

“This is a way to save money. It will reduce the quality of support to carers and some carers will receive nothing. What hurts most is the pretence that carers have been involved in drawing up this policy.

“This whole business shows a profound disrespect for carers.”

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “We are seeking people’s views on proposed changes to carers’ support. These proposals have been informed through conversations with carers and will ensure that we comply with changes in the law.

“We will be writing to carers directly to encourage them to respond to this consultation and their feedback will be carefully considered before any final decision is made.”