A disabled man is facing a bill of thousands of pounds after being stuck in a St Andrews care home for 18 months, despite being fit enough to go home.
Douglas Dawson, 63, who has multiple sclerosis, has been stranded at the St Andrews House care home since April 2018, when the agency providing him with care suddenly withdrew and Fife Council was unable to find another.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has also withdrawn his Disability Living Allowance (DLA), backdated to May 2018, because he is staying in a care home.
Fife Council has been trying to charge Mr Dawson £26,000 for living there, even though he does not want, or need, to be there.
North East Fife Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie has described the situation as “appalling” and has written to the health secretary and the work and pensions secretary, urging them to intervene.
Mr Dawson said: “It strikes me as perverse that Fife Council, who are responsible for providing care for me at home, are trying to charge me for staying in residential care which I do not yet want, or need.
“The council appear to be unfairly using legislation designed to protect people as an instrument of usury.
“I have already had my Disability Living Allowance withdrawn, which is having a big impact on the finances of both myself and my wife.
“This is completely degrading way of dealing with someone who just wants to go home and work.
“I’m pleased that Mr Rennie has raised the issue with the Scottish Government but am concerned that my case will be ignored once again.”
Mr Dawson has been confined to a wheelchair since 2008 and requires two carers a day. His DLA paid for a job support worker that enabled him to stay in work, despite his disability.
Fife Council intends to assess Mr Dawson using “Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance”, which is supplied by the Scottish Government and applicable to people needing 24-hour care.
Mr Rennie said: “So he’s been told to pay for 24-hour care that he does not need, in a care home where he does not want to live, for 18 months because the council can’t provide the care he needs to be at home and now his Disability Living Allowance has been withdrawn too.
“That does not seem fair to me.
“This is a matter of real urgency and Fife Council, the Scottish and UK Governments needs to face up to their responsibility and provide care for Mr Dawson at home.”
North East Fife SNP MP Stephen Gethins has also intervened on Mr Dawson’s behalf, asking the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions to review their decision.
He said: “Far too often constituents are disadvantaged at a very difficult time in their lives and, as these benefits are still reserved to Westminster, I have called on Mr Dawson’s case to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
“I have been in touch with Mr Dawson and his local councillor, Andy Heer, to keep them up to date and I welcome cross-party working with Mr Rennie to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
Julie Paterson, divisional general manager for Fife’s health and social care partnership, said: “Fife health and social care partnership is committed to ensuring that every person who is eligible receives care and support.
“Every effort is made to maximise choice and flexibility with regards care provision, but it has been very difficult in this geographical area to identify alternative care options.
“The service continues to work in partnership to consider agency and/or personal assistant support to facilitate Mr Dawson’s safe return home as it is his wish.”