Worthing woman’s fears follow stoppage of care funds

Heather Williamson. W40813h11
Heather Williamson. W40813h11
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A DISABLED woman fears she will be “trapped within four walls” following her vital care payments being cancelled.

More than 15 years ago, Heather Williamson, of Longfellow Road, Worthing, developed a painful condition of trapped nerves in her abominal wall which causes “excrutiating” physical pain when she moves her muscles.

For years, doctors were unable to say what was wrong with her until four years ago she was diagnosed with subcutaneous posterior nerve entrapment syndrome with neuropathic pain.

Shortly after, Heather was assessed and given direct payments from social services, which she described as “life-changing”.

Those payments enabled Heather, a former violinist and violin tutor, to regain her independence with the aid of a personal assistant who helped her with getting dressed, shopping, correspondence and other vital tasks.

But Heather has now been told the £176 she receives weekly is being cancelled from October 21.

She said: “It feels like every time there’s a change of government, they pick on the weakest people in society.

“If my direct payments are cancelled I don’t know what I’ll do.”

She added: “I understand we’re in financial difficulties, but what I don’t understand is why they don’t reduce the payments by 10 or 20 per cent, rather than removing my care component entirely.

“It’s like they’re saying the person who assessed me before was an idiot for giving me £176 a week.”

Heather said she was told she would now need to pay for her care from her benefit payments.

She has approached Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley about her situation and will now appeal the decision.

But she said the 15 working days given to appeal the decision was not long enough.

The news comes as West Sussex County Council was rated 143 out of 152 councils in England for the care it offers to the disabled and elderly, in a survey.

The survey, carried out by independent think-tank DEMOS, marked each council on six critical elements and rated WSCC’s cuts as “very high” and its coping level as “bad”.

A WSCC spokeswoman said: “Reassessments are a thorough process and are objectively carried out by professional staff.

“If someone is unhappy at the outcome of their reassessment, there is the option to appeal the decision made at each stage of the process.”