Carers’ holiday money slashed

FURY: Ron Chambers is a carer for his wife Judy

12:10pm Wednesday 25th April 2012 in Exclusive By James Connell

A CARER has complained he can no longer afford to go on holiday to take a break from his duties because the council slashed his budget.

Ron Chambers, of St George’s Walk, Barbourne, Worcester, says he is “seething” after Worcestershire County Council cut his breaks allowance from £300 to £200.

Council chiefs say the changes mean more carers can access support – 1,175 instead of 903.

Last financial year (2011/12) carers could get a maximum of £300 a year to fund breaks, but this year (2012/13) it has been cut to £200.

Mr Chambers, aged 65, is a carer for his wife Judy, 69, who has osteoarthritis, asthma, bladder problems and has recently been registered blind and needs either a wheelchair or stick to get around.

Mr Chambers, who no longer gets a £55 per week carer’s allowance because he is a pensioner, said the money allowed him to have a break from everyday chores such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, helping his wife in and out of the shower and to dress and general housework.

He said: “I am absolutely seething. They are taking carers for granted.

“A break leaves me feeling refreshed.

“In my position, being a pensioner now, I can’t afford a full holiday without that £300.

“Now they have reduced it to £200 and I have been told I may not even get that.”

Mr Chambers, also chairman of the Worcestershire Pensioners Action Group, said he would use the money to go on a self-catering holiday to Wales for a week.

He takes his wife with him, saving the State hundreds of pounds each year rather than having her put into care.

A Worcestershire County Council spokesman said: “Changing the carer direct payment budget for individual carers from £300 to £200 enables us to support more carers across Worcestershire.

“We recognise and appreciate what carers do throughout the county, which is why we are committed to spreading support to as many as possible.

“So although individual carers may see a reduction in their specific budget, more people who fulfil this vital role will have access to the help, guidance and support we provide as a result of this decision.”

Carole Cumino, chief operating officer of the Worcestershire Association of Carers, said: “While we are pleased more carers will benefit from the changes to the amount paid as direct payments for carers, we are disappointed for those who will receive payments lower than they have in the past.

“We would like to hear from anyone who is likely to lose out as a result of the changes in council policies, and will work with them to see if we can find other ways of supporting them in their caring role.”

The association was established in 1997 as an independent charity.

There are about 60,000 informal carers in Worcestershire, with many caring for more than 50 hours a week.