So I finally got round to phoning up the local authority's welfare rights department about being turned down for a community care grant.
I wish I'd not bothered wasting my time on the phone call, let alone applying for the community care grant in the first place.
It seems that the local welfare rights department won't assist with social fund decisions because they disagree that there is no right of appeal, only review for social fund applications. Whilst I agree that the no right of appeal is fundamentally wrong I think that welfare rights should be dealing with any welfare problem not just the one's they think they should. Particularly because this welfare rights department are part of the local authority.
The welfare rights 'expert' I spoke to advised me that none of the items I applied for on my community care grant will be covered by a community care grant. This is because the items I applied for are primarily medical and as such should legally be supplied by other state funded agencies. There is a chance I may get some funding for a mattress but no chance of getting funding for the specialist tempur mattress. The community care grant may provide funds for an averagely priced mattress as that is an essential item but the tempur mattress is needed for primarily medical reasons, ie to reduce my night time dislocating so that cost should apparently be funded from elsewhere. It seems community care grants will be refused for any item considered to be for 'medical' needs.
On my community care grant application I asked for help with the costs of a tempur mattress, a mobility scooter, ramps for access with the scooter, a storage shed for the scooter and specialist shower chair. I didn't expect to be funded for all of the items but I had hoped for some of the cost to be contributed by the social fund.
The mobility scooter is supposed to be funded out of the Disability Living Allowance High Rate Mobility Allowance, but like many disabled people I have found it more cost effective to use that money for living on. I simply can't afford to hand over approximately £170 a month for a vehicle. I'm very, very fortunate to have someone who wants to buy me a mobility scooter so avoiding that issue but I need to meet the cost of storage shed and ramps to be able to get that scooter in the first place. I could, as some have suggested, apply for an electric wheelchair instead but the rules on wheelchair provision via the NHS in my local authority state that I'd have to use that wheelchair indoors for a minimum of six months before I'd be eligible to even be considered for an outdoor chair. I live in a tiny one bedroom flat with no room for a power wheelchair, would need more ramps installed to use it and probably couldn't get a power chair through any of the inner doors even if I was willing to use a powerchair indoors and lose all the benefits of staying on my feet in my own home. Welfare rights would not assist with this problem as they are funded by the same local authority as the wheelchair service.
The only advice welfare rights gave to me was to approach social services to be reassessed for the ramps as they are responsible for adaptations to housing. Frankly I'd rather die. It sounds terribly dramatic but I've spent years getting over the damage caused to my life by incompetent and inappropriate assessments from social services and the potential benefit of getting some funding for ramps is simply not worth the problems social services are guaranteed to cause.
So, it's back to square one. My advice-don't become disabled in the UK, the bureaucracy will kill you long before any disability could. I don't suppose anyone wants to buy me a proper tempur mattress ?