Bexhill mother’s fears over cuts to daughter’s care

Linda Pestano with daughter Michelle Pestano. SUS-151021-182640001
Linda Pestano with daughter Michelle Pestano. SUS-151021-182640001

The mother of a severely autistic woman fears she may lose her vital lifeline as councils once again look to make drastic savings.

Michelle Pestano, 30, of Third Avenue, Bexhill, goes to a day care centre in Battle five days a week, a service run by Autism Sussex. She has severe autism and Down’s syndrome.

Her mother, Linda, fears services for adults with learning disabilities could face further cuts after learning East Sussex County Council is considering asking people who can afford it to pay for the learning disability community support service, currently free to all.

Linda said: “It’s always the people with learning difficulties who take the hit. That’s where they always choose to make the cuts.

“They run a coach and horses through this as people do not kick off about it. These disabled people have been assessed as needing services. I do all of my daughter’s personal care and if she ended up in a residential placement it would cost the county council at least £2,000 a week because she needs 24-hour care.”

Michelle does not receive help from the community support service.

An ESCC spokesman said: “We are considering changes to this service which would mean some people would have to pay. We do appreciate the concerns people have, but as a result of government funding cuts we have to save between £70m and £90m over the next three years, which means difficult decisions have to be made. The important thing to stress is that people would only be asked to pay for the service if they can afford it.

“The proposed changes would bring this service into line with the other learning disability support services we offer.

“Around 150 people currently use the service and many have already had a financial assessment carried out, which allows us to find out whether they’d have to pay.

“We know how many people would need a new assessment and can complete this work if the proposed changes are approved.”

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