“Steven will not be invited to view the property in Horseshoe Drive. Bidding closed yesterday and he came 42nd out of all the people who bid for the property”.
Four hours later, I’m on the floor.
42nd? I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that come with hearing that Steven only came 42nd. all I know is that it feels like all energy and heart has been drained from me at the moment. He’s disabled. He is homeless and has been living in temporary accommodation since November 2013. His house is due to be demolished in April 2017 to make way for a new development.
This afternoon, Steven’s advocate, the brilliant Jayne Knight and I met with his social worker. A housing officer was meant to attend as well but couldn’t make it. The meeting was arranged a couple of weeks ago, before the house in Horseshoe Drive came up. Jayne knows the form of these processes and the purpose of the meeting was to get answers, one way or another, to three questions. We have been asking these three questions for the past two months but nobody will answer them:
- Will Hillingdon tap into one of the many funding streams available that could help with securing a home to buy or a privately rented property?
- If we go ahead and buy Steven a house/flat, will Hillingdon cover the mortgage interest payments?
- If we go ahead and rent Steven a privately rented house/flat, will Hillingdon cover the rent via discretionary housing payments?
Jayne and I are prepared to do all the leg work and go and find and source a new home for Steven. But there’s no point in us doing that, if Hillingdon refuse to support the move. Today, with no housing person present, we still didn’t get answers to those questions. So, it’s one final letter to be sent off today asking the questions all over again, a seven day deadline for a reply and then a judicial review letter.
Hillingdon’s position is that they don’t have to do anything until November. Steven is unlikely to move up from 42nd position in that time. He might but he could as easily move down! In November, with the demolition six months away, they will reconsider his banding. Even then, it will still be down to me to bid for properties that may or may not appear on their bidding list. Bear in mind, the house in Horseshoe Drive was the first suitable property since February. I was told that I must continue bidding between now and November, to demonstrate Steven’s commitment to a move! I failed abysmally to describe what a depressing thought that is to the social worker. Having to check their Locata system every Thursday. Fighting a small glimmer of hope over the weekend. Then told on Monday that Steven won’t be selected because he’s slipped down the hit parade from 42nd to 44th.
Local Authorities excel at this sort of pointless endeavour. They love it. I’ve had a carers assessment every year since 2007 and even though each one takes 90 minutes, none of them have produced anything. I used to have to go to monthly meetings with the LA psychologist and the Positive Behaviour Support team to pour over logs of every aspect of Steven’s life. Nothing happened. I fill out endless monthly Personal Budget audit forms and send them off and never hear a dicky bird in return. Lots of pointless activity that leads to nothingness. I’ve now got at least six months of more of the same.
The social worker said at one point, “What you need is a bridge between Steven and Housing”. I replied, “Yes. You are that bridge”. But I’m a fool. Social Care don’t do that sort of work any more. Neither the Social Worker or the Housing Officers have the first idea of their statutory duties. Listening to Jayne reel off the Care Act, the Equalities Act and being met with total indifference was so dispiriting.
The social worker let slip that housing has something called “direct allocations” that bypass the bidding process. We may find ourselves in a direct allocation position come November. But scarily, I read Hillingdon’s policy on direct allocations and you only get offered one property. It could be anywhere. Take it or leave it.
I appealed to the social worker’s knowledge of Steven and to people with learning disabilities in general. When choosing a property, I have to consider how it will impact on the care plan and package. Is the property near the places that Steven goes to? If not, that has implications for the travel element of Steven’s Personal Budget. I have to consider the travelling of the support workers to and from work. We’ve had a very settled team for five years. I don’t want to jeopardise that by being forced to move somewhere that they can’t get to. There are hundreds of factors like this. This to me is the meat and potatoes of a social worker’s work but I know I’m ridiculously old fashioned. I don’t think it even registered. When someone keeps repeating, “I hear what you’re saying”, you know that they’re not hearing what you’re saying.
Jayne knows her stuff. I’m learning fast. We have a legal team on standby ready to do the business.
It shouldn’t be necessary.
From → Social Care