15th Dec, 2019

More than a friend - Leanna's reliance on pooch county cut the cash for

Harry Leach 19th Oct, 2018

SHE empties the washing machine, fetches the mobile phone and picks up anything that’s dropped.

For world class gold medal winning para athlete Leanna Horne, her dog Trudy is not just her best friend, but an essential part of her care team.

However that hasn’t stopped Worcestershire County Council axing her allowance for Trudy along with other sweeping cuts to Leanna’s support benefits.

“It’s impossible to put into words how important Trudy is to me,” said Leanna, who was born with cerebral palsy.

“I know I couldn’t live independently without her – my personal assistants only come for five hours and without Trudy I couldn’t guarantee my own safety – for me it means I can do tasks around the house secure in the knowledge she can help me.

“She can access the Lifeline button, fetch my handbag, pick things up off the bottom shelf in shops, hand over money, get change – the list is pretty endless.”

Leanna, who won the Lifetime Award in the Redditch Women of Achievement celebration in May, says Trudy is an assessed need, as agreed with the county council.

“She has been recognised and respected for her work, by £138 every four weeks being allocated within my budget since the end of 2010,” said Leanna, aged 30.

“And she is much cheaper than the cost of a 24/7 carer.”

Leanna, a former pupil at Arrow Vale High School in Redditch, was competing for Team England in the World Games near Barcelona when she discovered Conservative controlled Worcestershire County Council had, without prior warning, slashed her support benefits.

Expecting to find £2,076 to pay her carers she was horrified to find only £610 in the account, sending her into debt to pay the wage bills.

She immediately raised the alarm and since then the county council has come up with an emergency payment of £486.90 ahead of a meeting next week.

“My situation has not changed since the last time I was assessed.

Worcestershire County Council have alleged mis-spending in the budget however they have been unable to provide any evidence of this,” added Leanna.

“Frankly I think it is cost cutting.”

A Worcestershire County Council spokesperson said: “We’re continuing to liaise with Leanna regarding her ongoing concerns and how we can best support her personal needs going forward.

“Whilst we can’t comment on individual cases, we do take any complaints or concerns raised with us very seriously and we aim to find a solution that will suit both Leanna and the Council moving forward.”

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