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 Anna McNaughton

Anna McNaughton wants to move to a housing association bungalow in Worthing, but council funding disputes have scuppered her plans. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Saba Salman

The Guardian, Wednesday 13 October 2010

Disabled people in care who want to live more independently are being prevented from doing so by funding wrangles between local authorities, reports Saba Salman

Anna McNaughton fell in love with the West Sussex seaside town of Worthing when she moved there two years ago. It’s a stone’s throw from Brighton, around an hour by train from London, and its bars, cafes and restaurants are edged by a tree-lined promenade. Having had a room in a shared house since moving, the 23-year-old wants her own space.

The fact that McNaughton has no recognisable speech and is a profoundly physically disabled wheelchair-user doesn’t stop her feeling passionately about her home town. She likes the pedestrianised streets, has local friends and wants to lay down roots. Earlier this year, she found an accessible housing association bungalow that she could part-rent and part-buy under a scheme allowing those with long-term disabilities to secure a specialist mortgage. She began planning her move.

Worthing Pavilion & Promenade

But McNaughton is not moving anywhere. A bureaucratic wrangle over something called ordinary residence has trapped her in residential care, despite the fact that she not only desires but is capable of living more independently.

Defining someone’s ordinary residence is the mechanism that councils and primary care trusts (PCTs) use to decide who should fund an individual’s care. Ordinary residence guidance – and it is guidance, rather than an obligation – is part of the 1948 National Assistance Act. If a council places someone in residential care outside the local authority area, it remains financially responsible. Should the person subsequently move out of care and into supported accommodation in the community, responsibility shifts to the council in which they are based.

But authorities often balk at funding someone not originally from the area, while the councils that originally placed them in out-of-area residential care argue that they are not responsible for funding if the person moves.

This is what happened to McNaughton. East Sussex county council funds her care at a Leonard Cheshire Disability residential home in Worthing – it funded her previous residential care at Treloars college in Hampshire – but if she moves out of the home and into supported housing, her care becomes the financial responsibility of West Sussex county council. Because the latter has refused to fund her, she is in limbo.

Read in Full:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/oct/13/disabled-people-trapped-in-care

 

Phone providers are ‘disenfranchising’ disabled people from society – Ofcom

Ofcom survey shows mobile phone companies are failing disabled consumers

Arwa Aburawa

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 5 October 2010 17.10 BST

Disabled consumers receive such a shockingly inadequate level of service from communication providers that they are being “disenfranchised from society”, according to a survey conducted by Ofcom.

The communications regulator anonymously contacted BT, Orange, O2, TalkTalk, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, 3 and Vodafone, asking for advice on the services available for blind or visually impaired customers. It found that, even after prompting, a quarter of consumers were either not given information or were told that the providers didn’t offer any special services for disabled customers.

Anna Bradley, chair of the Communications Consumer Panel, which advises Ofcom on consumer interests, said: “The results were shocking. Both fixed and mobile providers are required by Ofcom not only to make services available for disabled consumers, but to make sure consumers can find out about those services.

“Ofcom’s mystery shopping has revealed a picture of inadequate, misleading or non-existent information across all providers.”

Read in Full:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/oct/05/phone-providers-disenfranchising-disabled



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