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Getting Steven Away

November 16, 2012

On Wednesday, I attended the second meeting to look at our housing options with two senior managers from Hillingdon; one from housing and one from social care. (cost to me over the two days £120 in lost earnings). surprisingly, the option of social housing that the deputy director of housing had suggested the day before, had suddenly disappeared off the table. That despite Hillingdon giving a statement to the BBC an hour before the meeting saying that the social housing option could be the most favourable option.

Three options were presented:

1. We move back to the marital home with no rental liability. The consequences of that though (which the social care manager acknowledged may happen) is that social services would immediately raise a safeguarding adults alert on Steven and probably within a short space of time, would remove Steven from my care. That is exactly the same position we were in back in 2009 which prompted us leaving the family home. Also, it would be impossible to sustain a care package in that environment.

2. I meet the full rental liability myself. I’d love to be able to do that and get away from the benefits system and trying to increase my income isn’t for the want of trying. However, the stumbling block with this option is that if I did find more work, I don’t have the support in place to enable me to work more hours. Social services have made it very clear that they will not increase the support package.

3. Hillingdon will make up the shortfall in my rent from their discretionary homeless fund. This would be a very temporary arrangement and is conditional. The condition is that once we have been to the Court of Protection (looking like the end of January now) and I am appointed Steven’s welfare deputy, Hillingdon would expect me to transfer the tenancy into Steven’s name. As he wouldn’t be entitled to housing benefit either, by virtue of his damages, he would have to pay the full rental liability out of his damages. I’m not convinced that is legally sound but even if it is, it is morally and ethically vile. Obviously, I would still pay as much as I can towards the rent but his damages would still disappear very quickly.

I have asked Steven’s legal team to consider three things (and if anyone reading this knows the answers, please get in touch because I would be very grateful):

1. Is Hillingdon’s decision to stop my housing benefit legally correct? I have appealed but unfortunately because of how Hillingdon have orchestrated it, time is against us, so we’ll be served an eviction notice before the appeal is heard.

2. Is there a way of protecting Steven’s damages, so he doesn’t end up having to pay the full rent?

3. Is it legal for me to be appointed welfare deputy and then the next day, transfer my tenancy into Steven’s name and lumbering him with a £950 a month rental liability?

Here’s the news. I think the best thing to do is to move right away from Hillingdon. This relentless harassment has continued for five years now and even if this latest issue gets sorted favourably, there will be something else around the corner. There always is. I’ve been looking into the option of shared ownership and could use a large chunk of Steven’s damages to really secure his accommodation for the future. I’ve been looking at Kent as I have some friends there already and there is even the possibility that a couple of Steven’s support workers would still be able to work with him. There are other options I can consider but perhaps now is the time, having got Steven home, to get him away from Hillingdon for good.

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From → Social Care

3 Comments
  1. Isn’t it ridiculous that an option offered (returning to marital home) isn’t really an option because safeguarding procedures would be instigated. If Hillingdon is the same as most other local authorities around the country, they’re probably overstretched so why suggest an option that will waste public money but more importantly cause further distress to Steven and you. Although having followed your journey with interest, that sounds about par for the course.

    I’m not able to answer your legal questions, although I sincerely wish I could give you the answers you need. I can make some observations about your dilemma concerning the Mental Capacity Act and deputyship.

    First and foremost a deputy has to act in the best interest of whoever they are a deputy for; whether that’s a welfare deputy or for property and affairs. The latter of which, I would have thought the correct process for dealing with finances and tenancies. I suppose the bottom line is to ask how transferring your tenancy to Steven is in his best interest? It’s not necessarily right to assume it isn’t, but one would have to be very clear why. If you did transfer the tenancy and it wasn’t in Steven’s best interest the Local Authority could inform the Office of the Public Guardian that you aren’t acting in Steven’s best interest and that the CoP remove.

    Deputies also have a fiduciary duty: That is to not put themselves in a position where their duties as a deputy conflict with their personal interests. Whilst I’m not suggesting you would ever knowingly do anything untoward, this concept may be worth considering in this instance.

    Is it ethical, well I suppose if you conclude that it’s in Steven’s best interest then it may not be a dilemma that needs considering.

    Mark, I have probably left you with more questions than answers but perhaps my comment has been of some use to you. Best wishes, Gary

  2. 1) Is Hillingdon’s decision to remove your housing benefit legally correct? I would say not, but it’s a grey area requiring the decision of a judge. You did not leave the marital home because you had become ‘estranged’ from your wife in the way that most people separate. You left the marital home because your wife had become seriously mentally ill and you had to remove Steven for his own safety. I cannot believe that any judge presented with the facts of this case would not rule that you and your wife have been ‘unavoidably separated’ and therefore forced to live apart due to circumstances beyond your control i.e. you wife’s illness and the need to keep Steven safe. In my opinion this means that you are not ‘estranged’ in the legal sense of the word. I would find it quite astounding if the law allowed for the fact that if it was for example your brother’s wife and not your own incapacitated wife living in the house then she would be classed as a ‘relative’ and your share of the property could be wholly disregarded, but because it is your own wife the clause doesn’t apply. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    2) Is there a way of protecting Steven’s damages? I don’t know the answer to this but I feel that there should be. The Court of Protection may well impose restrictions on how much authority you have over the money anyway, such as insisting a trust fund is set up with any spending above a certain limit requiring the prior permission of the Court. Until you actually get the Court Order you can’t possibly know what it will say.

    3) Is it legal for you to transfer the tenancy into Steven’s name and saddle him with a £950 a month rental liability? Again this will depend on what the Court Order actually allows you to do as deputy, each one is different, and until the order is issued you will not know. However even if the order does allow you to enter into a tenancy agreement on Steven’s behalf, the supervising officer from the Office of the Public Guardian may well see transferring a tenancy from your own name into Steven’s as a conflict of interests.

    I do think that getting away from Hillingdon would be a smart move though.

  3. Liz (Matron)Spencer permalink

    Hi, One option might be to put Stephens damages in trust and just collect the interest. As long as the capital stays in trust he may be entitled to some Hb. You would need to talk to a financial adviser about this, and check the legal angle on whether doing it now would be seen as ok by the council, tread very carefully . The problem with damages is if it puts the person over the savings limit then they usually don’t qualify. It stinks I know. I’m thinking along the lines of Helen Hale. My Brother went into housing with support , with a small inheritance and was told if he put the money in trust he could claim. the ruke may well be different for damages. I wish you all the best you are in an awful position, it’s inhuman and I don’t know hopw the parties concerned can sleep at night.

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