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WIDESPREAD DELAY IN PROCESSING DISABILITY GRANTS CLAIM

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Case no: CO/0489/96 ...
Case no: CO/0489/96

A 68-year-old Buckinghamshire man, left 'freezing' in his wheelchair while a dispute rages over who should pay to bring the heating in his home up to scratch, has won the right to a full high court review of his case.

Neil Scott is paraplegic, has lost the sight in one eye, is partially deaf, has difficulty sleeping due to pain and is increasingly socially isolated.

And Mr Justice McCullough in court yesterday took little time to order a full judicial review of what Mr Scott's lawyers say is the county council's continued failure to provide him with the home-heating he desperately needs.

The judge urged the council to take speedy action without the need for a costly court hearing, saying: 'Discussions ought now surely to take place to see how as a matter of practicality Mr Scott can have some form of heating. That should be done just as soon as possible.'

The court heard that Mr Scott is paraplegic, largely confined to a wheelchair and has recently developed diabetes.

He is completely reliant on the care of his wife, also in her sixties, but she too has health problems.

In her sworn affidavit to the court, Mr Scott's solicitor, Nicola Mackintosh, described the couple's bungalow as 'very cold' with only the living room and dining room heated.

'As Mr Scott is unable to move around to keep himself warm, and his circulation is extremely poor, he suffers the cold intensely, which exacerbates the pain in his legs, back and hands.

'Currently, as the winter weather has brought freezing temperatures, ice and snow, the situation has become unbearable'.

Following an assessment of his needs, the council concluded last month that Mr Scott needed 'heating temperatures comparable with those in a hospital or residential care establishment'.

The county council then asked Chiltern DC for a Disabled Facilities Grant, but Mr Alan MacLean, for Mr Scott, told the court that was just not good enough.

'It is not enough to take a preliminary step such as applying for a grant which may or may not be granted'.

Mr Justice McCullough ruled it 'arguable' that the county council was failing in its duty to provide for Mr Scott's pressing need, and ordered an 'expedited' hearing of the pensioner's judicial review challenge.

'In the meantime, Mr Scott is sitting in his wheelchair, freezing', said Nicola Mackintosh, outside court.

'Mr Scott's needs have been apparent to the social services department for at least three years.

'They have not yet made the application for the grant, there is no guarantee that the grant will be forthcoming, and even if it is, it is going to take many, many months'.

A spokesman for the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation added: 'This is very much an example of what is going on all over the country.

'RADAR has been involved in many cases like Mr Scott's, where people have been waiting two, three, or even four years for the process (of grant applications) to be completed'.

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