John Gulliver is out to lunch

Monday, 1st November 2021 — By John Gulliver

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Finn Brewster Doherty 

Camden charged with lacking care

Why is Camden charging vulnerable people for home care when other Labour councils do not?

In 2017, the Care Act 2014 was replaced with legislation that allowed local authorities to charge for day and night care from people’s benefits.

Some councils – including Hammersmith – chose not to implement the charges. But Camden continues to do so – and often with devastating consequences.

One woman, with breast cancer, told this week how she had been left with just £1.65 a day from her Personal Independent Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

The woman, who lives in Kentish Town, is already coping with extra costs that face all cancer patients undergoing treatment. For example, she has to maintain a strict healthy diet and buy new clothes due to a dramatic weight loss.

Recent research shows cancer patients can be left up to £570 a month worse off because of their diagnosis.

WinVisible has written to the council warning it is “undermining the well-being of a cancer patient by forcing her down to the minimum income level”.

In a complaint, the Kentish Town-based campaign group said: “She deserves to enjoy her life as much as possible. She is undergoing gruelling treatment.

“She must not be subjected to the stress and worry of charges, getting into debt and the threat of being taken to court for unpaid charges.

“She felt she had no choice but to bargain down the amount of hours. This is totally unacceptable as she has been assessed as needing increased support. This leaves her with £11.60 weekly for her care needs, which equates to £1.65 per day.”

Camden Council’s awards and contributions department determines home care charges for people with disabilities.

Despite an appeal, the woman felt she could not afford the costs and has cut her care hours to 4.5 per week, with a charge of £78.

In a complaint to Camden, the woman, who has a mental health diagnosis and did not want to be named, said: “I was admitted to hospital five times between February and June because of lack of oxygen due to the cancer in my lungs.

“I was very debilitated throughout. My leg was so swollen, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t even pick up things from the floor, couldn’t clean.

“I have a lot of expenses: I need a new specialist mattress, I use more heating, more electricity for cooking, the cost of everything is increasing so much anyway. I had to buy new clothes because I lost a lot of weight with the chemo, for example, six or seven pairs of new trousers.

“I have high taxi costs for travel to hospitals for treatments and also to get to Covid tests. I am also seeing a lot of other doctors. I have to use the taxi, I can’t use public transport because I am too unwell and also coughing.

“The Taxicard helps but it is still very expensive. I spend a lot on transport so don’t have any spare money from my mobility benefit.”

Winvisible had requested all the care charges be suspended but Camden Council said it could not based on a calculation of her weekly expenses and savings, which are under £10,000.

“We cannot agree to your request to waive charges, the approach we can adopt is to review the financial assessment.”

Camden’s heath chief Cllr Pat Callaghan said: “Health care is free at the point of delivery, whereas social care is means tested by local authorities, including Camden Council, and is not free for everyone.

“In this case, we have offered the resident a further review of their financial circumstances and the specific care that they require – we hope they will take this up and we can then agree a support package which works for them.”

Sofar so good for north star

FINN Brewster Doherty grew up in Camden High Street above what was the landmark Camden Brasserie, which was run by his mother for decades.

Now 23, he has launched his own venture in the shell of the former restaurant while still living upstairs.

During Covid a tourist shop shut down, opening up an opportunity for him to sign a lease and open the new gallery there.

It has begun showcasing the work of street artists from around Camden Town.

Mr Doherty said he hoped the Camdemonium project can help revive Camden Town that he said “no longer attracts Londoners”.

He told me: “When I say to my mates let’s go out in Camden, most of them are like ‘nah’. People go east, but I find east weird. It’s not my kind of thing.

“I like north London – it’s a bit more normal. It’s cheaper to go out here, than in east London – but there isn’t actually anything here for people to do in the evenings, even though there are all these venues.

“Camden does not attract Londoners. But it should do. I want to run gigs and Sofar Sounds here. I haven’t got a licence yet, but where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Sofar Sounds is a popular type of show put on by volunteers in small spaces.

Mr Doherty added: “Everyone likes looking at these kinds of artworks. But you have to have like £125 ticket to go to Frieze. Why? These guys we have in here they don’t get a space to use. They are bombers by heart. If they are allowed to do it legally, they can do things that are really special.”

During lockdown, the group put up works around the high street.

Terry Ellis

Kids’ book is quite a draw

REFORMED bank robber Terry Ellis has a new children’s book out.

The Doodles Visit to Kite Hill features two dogs, Archie and Rooney, who go on a journey though Hampstead Heath.

Other characters are based on Fleet Primary School pupils and staff – including the headteacher Don MacGibbon.

Mr Ellis, who lives in Fleet Road, said: “During Covid every day I would see the school teachers going in to school. This was in the time when people were dying in their droves.

“These people – the teachers, the cleaners, the bus drivers and everyone else in the NHS – they were still going to work. I could see the anxiety in their faces every day.

“So I decided to say thank you. I wanted to give something back to the school, by way of some really nice drawings.”

The Doodles books are illustrated by Camden residents Scarlett Harmony and Molly Hedges.

All proceeds will be donated to charity, schools and hospital children’s wards.

Mr Ellis spent eight and a half years in prison after a £100million robbery on tech company Verizon in King’s Cross. Since he got out, he has devoted his life to several campaigns, including Camden Against Violence.

Fresh details about his role in the “Ocean’s 11-style heist” on Verizon have recently been made public in another of Mr Ellis’s books.

The Doodles Visit to Kite Hill is available on Amazon.

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