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My Pea or Your Pea

April 14, 2016

I’ve got another of those issues that only occur when you’re the carer of a learning disabled person and have your whole life under surveillance by the State.

As the Responsible Welfare & Financial Deputy that I am, I submitted the annual financial audit to the Office of the Public Guardian a few week’s back. Steven doesn’t understand any of this, although he is amused that Dad had another title of Deputy, which reminds him of the toy Woody he used to have. When you pulled his string, Woody used to say “You’re my favourite deputy”.

Yesterday, I received a letter from the OPG wanting more detail about Steven’s expenditure. Mainly around household expenses.

Back in the day before Hillingdon made us homeless and I was the tenant of the flat we lived in, we didn’t have a problem. (Mind, we didn’t have the OPG scrutiny then). I was the tenant. I was responsible for the bills. Like most adult children living at home, Steven made a contribution to his board but the bills were down to me.

Now, our situation is reversed. Steven is the tenant. As the State likes to distance learning disabled people from their families, I am only referred to on official documents as ” live in carer”. But I’m still living there a large chunk of the week, so should make my contribution to the bills.

This is tricky when answering the OPG questions. How do you split electricity usage between us? We probably spend equal time on the computer, do I just split the Talk Talk bill 50/50? All the furniture in the house is Steven’s – does he foot the bill for the total household insurance?

Sometimes I forget that, officially, there is no relationship between me and Steven – he is independent of me. On Saturday I ordered us both summer jackets from Premier Man and paid for them from my debit card. I wouldn’t bother to transfer money from his account to mine for his jacket. It’s just a jacket.

The biggest problem with the OPG form is how do you apportion the shopping bill? I do a weekly online shop. Do I need to separate the items? A packet of peas for him: a packet of peas for me? Does it compromise his independence for us both to eat from the same packet of peas? I buy 8 cartons of orange juice for the week. We both drink it. Do I need to label them individually? For the audit, do I divvy up the cost? If Steven squirts his armpits with some of my Brut, do I charge him?

Not since I was 18 and lived at home with my Dad, have I had any experience of this. I don’t know how non learning disabled families manage the household bills. I don’t expect they have to be so meticulous and accountable. They probably don’t have to do an annual audit. But I don’t know. I live in a world under a microscope.

I’ll leave it there. I’ve got a busy morning planned. I’m sorting mine and Steven’s Frosties into individual Tupperware containers. It’ll please the Court.


From → Social Care

  1. Nightmare.We’ve had a similar issue with direct payments .As Pearl has recognised increasing needs our payments have been increased.I used to be allowed to use some on help with housework(cleaning or ironing)so I could free up time to devote to her.Not any more-has to be that someone else looks after her while I do housework.If she was an adult she could use it to help her,presumably the difficulty is that I may benefit from a clean living room floor when the payments aren’t mine?Keep those Frosties seperate!!

  2. Sally permalink

    This is inhuman. The attitude seems to be that it is the intention of all parent carers to rip off their offspring, that we have all proved ourselves untrustworthy and need this level of scrutiny.

    I haven”t met many con artists, but my impression is that they go for bigger prizes-money, yachts luxury goods and so on. No self respecting con artist would submit all this scrutiny and boring form filling for the glittering prize of a cleaned floor or an illicit packet of peas!

  3. Lizzie D permalink

    As it is impossible to come up with any kind of answer that makes sense, the result is a constant , low level sense of guilt and confusion.. Are there people at the OPG who seriously think it is possibly to separate family finances in this way?

  4. Jayne knight permalink

    Don’t even start to think about the bog roll!

  5. I don’t know if this will help you at all. But when I lived in a flat share, we all put an equal sum of actual physical cash into a Tupperware box at the beginning of each week and that was for groceries.
    There was a petty cash book in there for entering daily small purchases like milk and bread. The big weekly shop, we just put in the total along with the receipt. Any treats or personal items purchased as part of the weekly shop, we had to put the money into the box from our personal pockets. The petty cash book showed the running total and every so often we’d check that it matched the actual cash. We maintained a small surplus. IOUs were right out.
    I know there’s more than enough paperwork in your life. But it did give us a useful overview of our genuinely shared expenses and provide “proof” that we were being as fair as practically possible. Ok, so there probably was someone eating more than their fair share of peas, it could be argued that the guy who didn’t have sugar in his coffee was subsidising the rest of us. But we all found it preferable to the “this is my bog roll, this is your bog roll, this is guest bog roll” situation.

  6. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Mary this is wonderfully practical but do you really expect close families to live like this? Alright for your young student life but do you really want your family life blighted this way forever?

    The OPG systems sound almost Orwellian. Smacks of 1984.

  7. Pauline, no I do not really expect close families to live like this. I think it’s nothing short of ridiculous.

    But as this post illustrates, the situation is that the powers that be apparently *do* expect Mark and Steven to live like this, regardless of their family bond, and to document it as well.

    On reflection, though, Mark is undoubtedly capable of coming up with the idea of running a cash book, and the question of how others have managed to keep shared household expenses transparent and accountable was rhetorical – so, Mark, I apologise if my “practical” suggestion gave the impression that I think it’s okay for them to demand this of you.

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