There must be something in the air and it is not Spring. It is just over a year since I wrote the post Happy Families about the turmoil within my family. Now I find myself penning another post along the same lines. What is it, I wonder, about this time of the year? After I brought my mother up to Cheshire from Sussex, in April last year my relationship with my brother improved and recently when he has visited my mother I have invited him back here for a cup of tea. Only a few weeks ago the two of us enjoyed a chat and a cup of tea in our snug. Little did I know that behind the scenes he was up to his old tricks. I now regret that second chance that I gave him. I should have known that a leopard does not change its' spots.
Last month one Saturday morning there was a telephone call for me, just as I was sitting down to breakfast. I know that we are not early risers at the weekend but this call was from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). I thought that they were a Monday to Friday 9-5 operation. And this is the second time in a few months that they have phoned me at this time on a Saturday. It won't happen again. The phone now stays switched off, at the weekend, until after we have had breakfast. Husband watched with puzzled concern as he listened to my half of the conversation. My brother had written to the DWP asking for my mother's benefits to be paid to him. I was furious. When I managed to get my mother into a residential home near to me in Cheshire, he agreed that I would be responsible for my mother's welfare which strictly speaking includes her benefits. At that time the only benefit that she was getting was the state pension as my brother had not bothered to apply for the attendance allowance to which she was also entitled by virtue of being over 65 and having a long term health problem. So it was me who went to the trouble of completing the lengthy application form, on my mother's behalf for attendance allowance. After weeks of deliberation the DWP awarded my mother attendance allowance and decided to pay it to me, in the full knowledge that my brother was in the process of registering Power of Attorney in my mother's name. DWP rules meant that Mum's state pension would also be paid to me. Up until then that had been paid into my mother's account, which my brother had access to.
I use the money to pay for any clothes that my mother needs, toiletries, sweets, hairdressing, chiropody and dental charges and at the end of each month I have transferred the unspent money into my mother's bank account, which meant that my brother had access to it albeit a week or two later than if it was paid to him. But that is not good enough for my brother. He wants the benefits paid to him, which means that I have to spend my money, rather than my mother's money, on my mother. Then claim back from him what I have spent. Since I brought my mother up here my part time job has become very part time, as I have had to turn down some offers of work, which means that I really do not earn enough to support the level of spending necessary some months. As it is I have to buy everything for my mother separately and keep the receipts. Claiming back what I have spent is another unnecessary hurdle in my already complicated life. How much money does he need? He already has access to my parents/mother's savings and now that my mother's bungalow has sold, he has the six figure proceeds from that to think about. I know that he pays the care home fees out of the savings, but does he really need Mum's benefits as well? It is a matter of principal and I have to ask myself how much lower can he stoop?
The DWP have advised me that benefits do not have to be paid to the holder of Power of Attorney, but because my brother has asked for them to be paid to him they have to do so.