Who Cares about the Carers
Back in February I attended a Tide "getting your point across" session and the two Sarahs helped me tremendously understand who and how I should be talking to in order to get my message across.
I have been caring for my beautiful wife Margaret for over 3 years now since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
When Margaret was first diagnosed we were receiving lots of information from the health service and local charities but it was only when I went to our GP to ask about groups we could join, he suggested Age UK.
They told me that Margaret should apply for Attendance Allowance.
It was a good job they were able to complete the 31 page form for us otherwise I would have been lost trying to decided what I should and should not put on the form.
Later at a Frailty Nurse appointment the nurse said "of course you are getting Council Tax Discount".
Yet again we learnt how to get financial help merely by chance.
When I completed the Council Tax discount application form I attached copies of both Margaret's "unspecified dementia" medical report and the post HMPAO Spect Scan medical report that said it was Alzheimer's disease with the belief that together with our GP's certification of dementia diagnosis it would mean that these in some way would be used for the start of the 25% Council Tax discount.
To my horror none of the medical reports were acknowledged for the start of the discount. Our council only started the council tax discount from the date of receipt of Attendance Allowance which if it hadn't been for the chance discussion we would never have known about.
The only date the council were interested in was the date of receipt of Attendance Allowance so I asked the council to review their decision, for which they suggested I formally appealed.
I then appealed at a tribunal and then last December went to the high court.
In preparation to going to the tribunal I asked all UK councils what there policies were and 255 out of the 382 UK Councils delay payment of council tax discount until the date of Attendance Allowance, totally ignoring the GP's certification and the diagnosis from the memory clinic and the hospital consultant.
Carers are totally ignored by local council who rely on laws written as far back as 1987 to avoid giving council tax discount.
This is at a crucial time when carers need to be heard and valued. Carers are the unseen workers caring 24/7 for the people they love who need complete and intimate care.
The only way I feel carers can be heard is by insisting the government recognise the hurdles carers need to overcome to simply maintain the strength to care day in day out but the government has put even more hurdles to stop them receiving council tax discount.
I am attempting to make a stance for carers by campaigning for a change in the laws through this petition