Worthing man, 102, in care home crisis

Walter Craven

Walter Craven

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A 102-YEAR-OLD man could be forced to move out of his care home in just seven months if he is not paid the £50,000 worth of benefit he is owed.

Walter Craven, who pays for his own care at the Victoria Royal Beach care home in Grand Avenue, Worthing, has not been paid the attendance allowance he has been entitled to for 16 years.

Geoffrey and Judith Sargent

Geoffrey and Judith Sargent

Attendance allowance is a benefit paid to those who are over 65 and are disabled enough that they need help to care for themselves.

To add further insult, Walter has also been deducted £55 off his weekly pension payments due to a lack of communication between the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and West Sussex County Council.

Meanwhile, Walter, who is frail, starting to lose his memory and is partially sighted, faces moving out of his care home because his savings are dwindling at a rate of around £3,000 a month.

Walter’s daughter, Judith Sargent, and her husband Geoffrey have been battling for almost two months to rightfully claim Walter’s benefit back.

Judith, 65, of The Street, Shoreham, said: “When my mother, who was receiving attendance allowance, passed away in 1995, I assumed that my dad would then receive a lower amount of allowance. When he became eligible for the higher amount, I rang up to change it, and was told that he was already receiving that amount – so I assumed it was all part of his pension payments.”

But when Judith rang up West Sussex County Council for assistance with nursing home costs after Walter’s savings dropped below the threshold amount of £23,000, she was denied.

“They told me that they would not pay any assistance because my dad was owed so much attendance allowance,” she said. “They were very helpful but it is so frustrating that we have seen nothing of this money.

“My dad is wonderfully eloquent and intelligent, but he is extremely frail, and needs 24-hour care. He has been at Victoria Royal Beach for 18 months and the staff are wonderful with him.”

According to Judith, when the council contacted the attendance allowance department about the owed money, the DWP then deducted Walter’s weekly £55 severe disability allowance.

She said: “It was deducted because apparently we were receiving assistance money from the council, which isn’t true at all.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “When we met with representatives of Mr Craven’s family, we advised them that it appeared he hadn’t been receiving the attendance allowance from the DWP, which he is entitled to.

“We are currently working with the family and the DWP to get this situation rectified as soon as possible. Once the allowance has been received, the county council can continue Mr Craven’s assessment.”

Geoffrey said when he called the DWP, the responsibility for paying the allowance was passed from department to department.

“They keep passing the buck and it’s getting us nowhere,” he said. “And all the while my father-in-law is still paying for his care out of his own pocket, with his savings reaching an alarmingly low level. We will chase this matter for as long as it takes.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are aware of the case and are looking into it as a matter of urgency.”