Asperger’s man hit with £1,000 support bill

editorial image

A Borders man feels he is “being punished for being disabled” after receiving a £1,000 invoice for the support that allows him to work.

Steven Oliver, who has Asperger’s syndrome, had been receiving Self-Directed Support (SDS) through an outreach service provided by Autism Initiatives Scotland (AIS) for the last year.

This support had enabled him to work in a part-time job, for five hours a week.

But Steven, who is from Duns, was told in November last year that Scottish Borders Council was to introduce a contribution to the cost, and in May he received an invoice for £1,049. An appeal against the decision was not upheld, on the grounds that Steven could reduce his outgoings to meet the cost.

Steven said: “While I understand that savings have to be made, the council’s attitude – which appears to be one of ‘not our problem’ – is disgraceful.

“Part of having Asperger’s is the intense anxiety of situations like this, so you can imagine how receiving such an invoice made me feel.

“The fortnightly meetings with my social worker are designed to combat that. She’s really helped me, even things like decorating my flat, things I couldn’t do on my own.”

An SBC spokesperson said: “While SBC would not wish to discuss individual cases, we are working with all service users to ensure that no one is deprived of essential services or faces financial hardship due to their contribution to the cost of these services.

“All charges are based upon an ability to pay and there are mechanisms in place to assess this for every individual.”