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Five years ago, Luke Davey and his mother were proud to act as the poster family for Oxfordshire Council’s social care department.
Appearing in a BBC news broadcast Mr Davey — who is in his thirties and has severe cerebral palsy — said: “I can manage my own affairs. I can do what I want, when I want.”
Five years later Mr Davey has instructed a solicitor to prepare legal action against the council which has cut his care package almost in half.
Until June this year, Mr Davey was receiving £6,555 a month to pay for his care from a combination of the council and the central government Independent Living Fund.
Billed as an innovative way to allow disabled young adults to control their own lives, direct payments have been promoted during the past decade as a cost-effective means of organising adult social care.
Mr Davey used the money to live independently in his own sheltered housing apartment and to employ a rotating team to provide round-the-clock care, which he favoured over the forced intimacy of a single live-in carer.
Now, however, his care package has been cut to £3,612, which means Mr Davey — who cannot get out of bed without a hoist operated by someone else — will be unable to afford a carer through the night.
His mother Jasmine Davey says this leaves her no choice but to provide that night-time care herself, although she is 74 and recovering from cancer.
Judith Heathcoat, one of the Oxfordshire councillors responsible for adult care services, said anyone whose care package had been cut could “consider [seeking] additional funding for six months to enable a transition to the new funding level”.
Mrs Davey said her son’s care package was cut after the Independent Living Fund was closed in June. Although ILF funds are now paid directly to councils, the money is not ringfenced. Instead of passing the money back to Mr Davey the council has reassessed his care needs as no longer warranting the funds.
“I just dissolved into tears,” Mrs Davey told the Financial Times. “He is registered blind; he can’t get himself a drink, he can’t get himself to the toilet; he cannot stand up. Every physical thing has to be done for him.”
She says the council suggested that if she were unable to cope physically with her son’s night-time care, Mr Davey could cut his care costs by hiring a single full-time carer — effectively undermining the independence he has worked hard to achieve.
“This is his life and suddenly they have taken away Luke’s life worth living,” she said.
Mr Davey’s family have one other option: to sue the NHS for damages, after a virus he contracted as a baby went unchecked by the medical profession for almost a year.
“I never wanted to do that,” Mrs Davey said. “But if we are going to be left in this situation, then I need to look at getting Luke millions.”
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