Carer hits out over financial support
A FULL-TIME carer from Hadlow has launched a furious broadside at Kent County Council's social services department over its lack of support for carers.
Eight years ago Philip Homewood, of Hope Avenue, gave up a career as a chef and baker to look after his 75-year-old father Bill, who received £160-a-month to pay for care.
The ex-submariner, who suffers from heart disease and arthritis, would pass his payment straight on to his son.
But now the council has forbidden that, leaving Philip, 40, to survive on a £55 carer's weekly allowance.
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"They've just taken away the financial support to which I believe I am legally entitled," he said.
"My father decided to pay me because he doesn't like outside people coming in. They told me it was OK at the Tonbridge office – I had a verbal agreement – but eight months later I received a letter saying it was not OK.
"The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing within Kent social services."
Mr Homewood junior, who returned his payment card in protest, pointed out that an outside carer typically cost £10 an hour. Paying him to do the job gave the taxpayer better value, he argued.
"There just is no support for carers in Kent," he added.
"We are all effectively working for about £1 an hour. I think it's appalling that they can get away with this."
Steve McIntosh, of carer support charity Carers UK, explained the system of Direct Payments was operated at councils' discretion and many did not allow them to be used to pay relatives.
He said: "These payments can give people far more choice in how they get care, and often older or disabled people prefer care to be delivered by friends and family members.
"We would urge councils to give people the option of paying friends or family members."
Mr Homewood, who has complained about the council to the local government watchdog, is now calling for carers to be paid the minimum wage. He also wants less bureaucracy in the system and the right to respite care.
"Research has shown carers receive so little support that many are developing mental health problems of their own or are being forced into poverty," he said. "It's absolutely disgusting. The Government needs to look at what they are paying carers. We save them billions."
Anne Tidmarsh, director of commissioning at Kent County Council, said: "The council provides direct support to carers and indirect support via a number of carers' support organisations and the NHS. A £200-a-year grant is given to carers as financial support to be spent on anything that will make their life easier for them."
She said efforts to contact Mr Homewood had been in vain, and that she would welcome him contacting the council again.