I want to move in!! — Scope | Disability forum
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I want to move in!!

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Yorkshireman22
Yorkshireman22 Community member Posts: 49 Courageous
Hi all, I don't know if anyone can answer my questions but here's the situation. It's a little long-winded but bear with me. 

I got offered a council flat in the beginning of November of last year for a property with assessed medical needs. They were aware I had a mobility scooter all through my application process. I was supposed to have a viewing with an Occupational Therapist but none were available so I was just put with a member of the housing team. I asked the lady about a garden shed and she told me they don't normally allow them at properties with communal gardens but it would be the decision of my area housing officer. I asked how to get in touch with them and they said I would meet them at a "Welcome Inspection" (to see how I was coping in the property and if I had any issues) and it would be within a few weeks of moving in. I had to chase them up for it and it didn't take place until the week before Christmas. I asked then what I should do about my scooter and she suggested parking it up in the hallway. Anyone who owns or has operated a Class 3 Mobility scooter will know that they aren't small objects. It would block the entire width of my hallway meaning I wouldn't be able to get off it without driving forwards and backwards to get in and out of rooms in the flat. That's not even considering the safety implications if there were a fire in the flat and I needed to get out in a rush. Then there's the damage it would cause to the door frame if I kept driving over it again and again... in other words, parking it indoors was not an option.
My AHO said she would look into it and get back to me either before Christmas or just after the new year. I had to chase her down again through my housing office (at this point no one would/could give me her phone number or email address) and she finally got back to me mid-January and told me no. I wasn't allowed a shed at a communal property. I was disheartened but would have to try and make something work. I hadn't moved in but had had the flat decorated and bought all my appliances, carpeting and furniture ready to move in. Around 5 minutes after that she called me back and told me after speaking to her manager that I may be allowed a garden shed as he had known cases where it had been approved. I was told to fill out a tenant alteration request form (which I queried because a new tenant isn't allowed to make alterations in the first 12 months). She said she'd asked about that too and even though it was out of the ordinary my TAR would be processed because I'm disabled. At this point I should say that my mobility scooter is leased from Motability through my PIP. The insurance states that my scooter needs to be locked up overnight and I have to take reasonable care of it ie, not leave it out in conditions unsuitable for its continued use. I can't just cover it up with the waterproof cover because it has no protection from the elements. If it was damaged, vandalized or stolen I would be left with the bill to repair/replace it. 
So I jumped through the hoops, hopped skipped and jumped, barked like a dog and then had to wait for an answer. The answer was no. The reasons were as follows:

  • I can't have a shed in the open plan area
  • I'm not allowed a power supply across the communal walkway
  • I can't place my mobility scooter against the rear of the building as this would block the communal path
  • The condition of the path and walkway and my rear steps are a health and safety concern
  • Aids and Adaptions don't make provisions for the storage of mobility scooters, it's up to me to make accommodations to store it
  • Although an OT didn't attend the viewing they did apparently view the 2 minute video and signed it off as suitable based on that. The video does not show the entire of the back of my flat. Just outside the door. So if the path is a health and safety concern why was this not picked up on in the email she sent me?
The only option she gave me was put up or shut up really. I could drive my scooter inside and put up with it, or they could put me back on the housing register with my original date of application and my band 2 status and find somewhere else to live more suitable. I'm 39 years old so the only properties I will be offered are ground floor flats. I don't qualify for a bungalow and even if they could somehow consider me for one, they are hard to come by so I might have to wait months/years to get one. Meanwhile I'm currently paying rent, and utilities on a property I can't live in because I can't leave the flat without the scooter and can't bring it indoors. I'm also liable for full council tax because I'm not living there yet and can't have the single persons discount applied which pushes it from £400 to £540. I can get help with council tax too but can't claim it for the same reason.
I  replied to her with obvious upset and went through her reasons point by point and explained that had an OT been at my viewing - whether they take scooters into account or not - I would not have signed the tenancy agreement based on their recommendation. I had mentioned to my AHO in a previous email that I had invested a lot of money in the flat and her response was to make a formal complaint to my housing department with receipts to make a claim for them back. A claim which might not be honoured and that I cannot provide receipts for everything. My decorator was from Facebook and not cheap, but also not necessarily a professional. So I wouldn't get that back. And whilst I could provide receipts for paint, brushes etc and for the carpets and other things, I don't think they would give me all my money back for what I've spent their. More likely they will offer me a furniture package at no extra cost on my rent for lower quality items. My AHO made the comment herself that the council carpets looks similar to theirs but definitely weren't as plush. So not really a fair trade if that was my only option.

I have now had to look into getting a powered wheelchair and have one to trial for a few days to see if it will fit in the hallway or maybe a cupboard in the hall if reversed into it, but the cupboards are small and a wheelchair in the hall still presents a serious risk of injury to me if I were to trip over it (whether in an emergency or not). And because the vehicle is effectively my legs away from home (I can toddle round the flat on my crutches) I can't leave the house without it. My scooter dealer told me that mobility scooters are not classed as a mobility aid and are more a luxury item but considerations have to be taken into account for powered wheelchairs (ie, they've got to be allowed on public transport etc). I have emailed my AHO and told her I'm proactively looking for solutions in the way of a PW but where would I stand on storage if it were a problem in the flat. She replied at the end of the day today telling me that the decision was the same and that I would be expected to ideally store it in the property.

This is stressing me out severely to the point that my health is in decline. And from reading through some information online I would like to know if my Council is in the right? Should they make some accommodations to help me out here? I've jumped through every hoop and they still won't help me out. I'm changing my entire lifestyle (I'm so used to a scooter that trying out a chair was a culture shock!) in order to be able to live my life and move forward and no one from my housing team will help. I have contacted my MP Sarah Champion who told me it would need to be dealt with by my local Councillors. They are involved and someone should be contacting me this week about the matter but the Councillor I spoke to said that even then they might not be able to change the outcome. But I feel that this is now indirect discrimination on the part of the council from the research I've done. How do I prove this? Who do I go to about it? Is there anything that can be done? 

Please, if anyone has had a similar thing happen to them or could give me some advice I would really appreciate it. I'm at my wits end and as some of the lovely staff who run this forum know, the last time I was in plight I was at the point of suicide not so long ago. I don't want to be pushed back down when I've only just started climbing out of that pit! And I'm not there yet but I can feel myself slipping. And the longer this goes on the more likely the council will just think I'm fine to carry on or will take the flat off me because I can't live there yet. 

Thank you for your time

Richard

Comments

  • woodbine
    woodbine Community member Posts: 11,642 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi Richard sorry they are making things difficult for you, I would be tempted to contact my MP and see if they can offer any help by speaking to the council, it's often surprising how an MP having words in the right ears can bring results.
    Hope you get it sorted and a warm welcome to scope.
    2024 The year of the general election...the time for change is coming 💡

  • MW123
    MW123 Scope Member Posts: 469 Pioneering
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    @Yorkshireman22

    I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties you're facing with the council. It seems that, despite your reasonable request for accommodations for your disability, the council hasn't provided a suitable solution. You may want to consider whether the council's actions could be seen as indirect discrimination. 

    Indirect discrimination occurs when a policy or practice that appears neutral has a disproportionate impact on individuals with a protected characteristic, such as a disability. This type of discrimination can be less obvious than direct discrimination, but it can still have a significant impact on individuals and groups. In this case, the council's policy of not allowing sheds or storage facilities in communal gardens for mobility scooters may seem to treat everyone equally, but it may have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities who rely on mobility scooters and need a secure place to store them. 

    If I were in your position, I would consider sending a courteous email to the council, highlighting the potential for indirect discrimination. It's probable that they haven't recognised how their longstanding rules and regulations, established on this property possibly many years ago, could inadvertently lead to discriminatory effects in the modern age.

  • Yorkshireman22
    Yorkshireman22 Community member Posts: 49 Courageous
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    @woodbine I have been in touch with my MP but they deal with mainly national stuff like DWP and passports etc is the response I got. She did put me in touch with local councillors who have stepped in to help but even they said that a decision may not change. I CC’d them in my emails to my AHO and they said that some of the issues raised were cause for concern but that might not affect the outcome. 
  • Yorkshireman22
    Yorkshireman22 Community member Posts: 49 Courageous
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    @MW123 I thought that myself that it could be seen as indirect discrimination after reading up on the equality act. One of my councillors has stepped in and an Area Housing Manager and Occupational Therapist are going to contact me to arrange a visit and look at my needs going forward. I’m not hopeful that this is going to make any difference as they’ve already said no and it feels like they’ll just find any excuse to brush me off. That might just be the way this whole situation is making me feel though more than an actual fact. But I will await the AHM and OT and keep you all posted. If nothing else it provide some information for anyone else who might go through something similar now or in the future .

    Thanks for your replies so far @woodbine  and @MW123
  • Hannah_Alumni
    Hannah_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,912 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hello @Yorkshireman22

    I am so sorry to see you having to go through such an awful situation. I see you have had some great advice. I wanted to remind you that if you ever need someone to talk to, organisations like SHOUT and Samaritans are there. And of course, you can always vent here <3

    I'm glad that you are in touch with local councilors, but I would CC your MP into the emails too. To make them aware. I do hope the visit with the OT and Housing Manager brings a solution for you! 

    Hannah - She / Her

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

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  • Yorkshireman22
    Yorkshireman22 Community member Posts: 49 Courageous
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    Hello again @Hannah_Scope I hope so too. It’s just back to waiting around for them again. 

    Thank you for the suggestions with SHOUT and Samaritans. I do have the Samaritans in my contacts list and I have spoken briefly to SHOUT before. Not about this but I know I can reach out if things are getting too tough.
  • Hannah_Alumni
    Hannah_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,912 Disability Gamechanger
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    The waiting around is one of the awful parts. Hopefully won't be a long wait <3 
    Hannah - She / Her

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.
    Want to give us feedback? Complete our feedback form now.

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