'Red tape' denies Bicester couple vital stairlift

'Red tape' denies couple vital stairlift

Les and Ellen Duddridge

Ellen in ATS uniform during the 1940s

Les in naval uniform

First published in News by

THEY fought for King and country during the Second World War.

He was the dashing sailor who saw action in Italy and Burma and the North Atlantic; she was the glamorous ATS girl doing her duty on the home front.

Now Les Duddrige, 86 and wife Ellen, 90, are facing a fresh fight; one with red tape and officialdom and one which they simply are not prepared to lose.

Their battle, which is being taken up by Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry, involves getting a stairlift installed in the housing association home in Danes Road, Bicester that they have lived in for the past 46 years.

They have been turned down for a grant because the property was once owned by the “wrong” housing association.

They have lived there since 1966 and have always paid their rent on time, first to Cherwell District Council, then Banbury Homes and now Sanctuary Housing.

Now Mrs Duddridge has mobility problems and finds it difficult to climb the stairs and her husband has terminal lung cancer.

Both her doctor and an occupational health visitor have recommended a stairlift.

Mrs and Mrs Duddridge were told a pot of money held by Sanctuary Housing, called the Disabled Facility Grant, was available to help people financially to make adaptations to their homes.

But the couple have now been told that because their property was once owned by Banbury Homes, they are not eligible for a grant.

If however, Charter Homes had taken over the property instead they could have got help.

The couple, who both worked at Bicester Defence Storage and Distribution Centre, face a £600 bill to install the stairlift and on-going monthly rental payments of £45. It’s something they cannot afford.

Mr Duddridge, wearing his chest full of medals earned during the war, fumed: “I feel so annoyed about it. To think they are not prepared to help in any way.

“When the lady came out she said ‘we have a pot which we keep the extra money in to help people’ – well we are not getting any help.”

Mrs Duddridge, added: “A stairlift would be great, trying to get up and down the stairs is murder. I start at the bottom and think I’m never getting to the top.”

The couple have two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Granddaughter Nicola Brittain said: “There is a pot of money there, but because of a technicality over Banbury Homes, they are not included.

“Their house was taken over by Banbury Homes, they didn’t have a choice.

“They just carried on paying their rent. This is why there’s a problem now.

“I think it’s outrageous. They have never asked for anything, they’re too proud, but now is when they need something.”

A spokesman for Sanctuary Housing said: “When Cherwell District Council transferred homes to Charter Community Housing, one of the conditions was that any disabled adaptations needed in the future would be funded by Charter.

“The properties have since transferred to Sanctuary Housing, along with this obligation.”

She said residents of other social landlords could apply to Cherwell District Council for a grant.

Sir Tony pledged to take up the couple’s case after he was contacted by the Oxford Mail.

He said: “I don’t think the fact who owned it and where the house was transferred from is relevant.

“They are tenants of Sanctuary Housing, so what can Sanctuary Housing do to make their lives more comfortable?

“There is a support pot of money for adaptations to housing, which Cherwell District Council administers.

“The difficulty is there’s lots of pressure on it and very often it’s exhausted very quickly.”

Comments (11)

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6:51pm Thu 15 Nov 12

icecreamlady says...

Sadly not an unusual situation never the less appalling. SAFFA or RAF Benevolent would step up and help.
Sadly not an unusual situation never the less appalling. SAFFA or RAF Benevolent would step up and help. icecreamlady
  • Score: 0

8:23pm Thu 15 Nov 12

sparro says...

buy one with dla if you get it. you can get an acorn lift for £1295 installed, no need to rent, this is what we did. good luck
buy one with dla if you get it. you can get an acorn lift for £1295 installed, no need to rent, this is what we did. good luck sparro
  • Score: 0

8:45pm Thu 15 Nov 12

the wizard says...

When my wife suffered a bad stroke two and a half years ago the red tape was horrendous and I was told surveys had to be done of the our home and grants applied for and lord knows what else. I went on E-bay and spoke to a supplier, result one stair lift fitted the next day for a little over £600 with one years warranty. Next day, done in one hour, no red tape, no surveys, no nonsense. It can be done. I wish the couple luck, Lord knows the country owes them and many more. Lets hope Baldry can overcome this petty officialdom metered out by these jobs worth manacins that sit in offices making life unduly difficult for the needy. They need to be named/blamed and shamed as do the councils for their petty stance, its a damned disgrace.
When my wife suffered a bad stroke two and a half years ago the red tape was horrendous and I was told surveys had to be done of the our home and grants applied for and lord knows what else. I went on E-bay and spoke to a supplier, result one stair lift fitted the next day for a little over £600 with one years warranty. Next day, done in one hour, no red tape, no surveys, no nonsense. It can be done. I wish the couple luck, Lord knows the country owes them and many more. Lets hope Baldry can overcome this petty officialdom metered out by these jobs worth manacins that sit in offices making life unduly difficult for the needy. They need to be named/blamed and shamed as do the councils for their petty stance, its a damned disgrace. the wizard
  • Score: -2

12:10am Fri 16 Nov 12

steve1955 says...

Why not a whip round by the 50 councillors on cherwell council they all would say they care for the people who pay them?

Bet theres no reply from one of them
Why not a whip round by the 50 councillors on cherwell council they all would say they care for the people who pay them? Bet theres no reply from one of them steve1955
  • Score: 0

3:13am Fri 16 Nov 12

Myron Blatz says...

Saying that this is a common problem with Councils or housing associations (many of which are far from well-run and not quite as charitable or well-run as press coverage across the UK has shown) doesn't address the issue - whoever is responsibpe, and needs exposing. These are companies which often hide behind charitable status to gain tax advantage, and certainly do not always have the same liability or responsibility for tenants and residents as would - say - a local or county council. Sadpy, the previous Labour government did little to more effectively regulate housing associations, and over the years we have seen many local authorities offloading their own liability and responsibility onto housing associations - some of which are also linked to care homes (and what rip-offs many of those have been exposed by the Press) and also linked to builders and property developers who have often been proven to be more interested in profits, than their tenants or residents.
Saying that this is a common problem with Councils or housing associations (many of which are far from well-run and not quite as charitable or well-run as press coverage across the UK has shown) doesn't address the issue - whoever is responsibpe, and needs exposing. These are companies which often hide behind charitable status to gain tax advantage, and certainly do not always have the same liability or responsibility for tenants and residents as would - say - a local or county council. Sadpy, the previous Labour government did little to more effectively regulate housing associations, and over the years we have seen many local authorities offloading their own liability and responsibility onto housing associations - some of which are also linked to care homes (and what rip-offs many of those have been exposed by the Press) and also linked to builders and property developers who have often been proven to be more interested in profits, than their tenants or residents. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 1

7:27am Fri 16 Nov 12

snert says...

Sadly we live in a "computer says no" society that requires certain boxes to be ticked in order to absolve someone of liability and responsibility because the rules say so and this is one of those things that falls through the cracks.
Sadly we live in a "computer says no" society that requires certain boxes to be ticked in order to absolve someone of liability and responsibility because the rules say so and this is one of those things that falls through the cracks. snert
  • Score: 0

1:55pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Nick Mawer says...

Steve1955, there are many reasons why councillors will not post here, and not least among them is respect for Mr and Mrs Duddridge.
Steve1955, there are many reasons why councillors will not post here, and not least among them is respect for Mr and Mrs Duddridge. Nick Mawer
  • Score: 0

2:36pm Sat 17 Nov 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

The best thing they can do is to exercise their right to buy (if they can), then with an additional advance on the mortgage install a commerically available stairlift.

The mortgage is likely to be less than the rent that they are paying and it will give their children and grandchildren a massive cash boost when the time comes.
The best thing they can do is to exercise their right to buy (if they can), then with an additional advance on the mortgage install a commerically available stairlift. The mortgage is likely to be less than the rent that they are paying and it will give their children and grandchildren a massive cash boost when the time comes. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Sat 17 Nov 12

steve1955 says...

Mr mawr
You respect them so much cant you ask your buddies on the council who are paid by us to donate or sort this out you can always have a meeting and claim expenses
Mr mawr You respect them so much cant you ask your buddies on the council who are paid by us to donate or sort this out you can always have a meeting and claim expenses steve1955
  • Score: 0

10:18pm Sat 17 Nov 12

Nick Mawer says...

Steve1955, cases such as these are exactly where local councillors do help.
Steve1955, cases such as these are exactly where local councillors do help. Nick Mawer
  • Score: 0

10:32pm Sat 17 Nov 12

steve1955 says...

Nick mawr

Hope you and others will help and resolve the situation i for one are sick of reading about the problems of the elderly and weaker members of society

then again this is 21st century Britain moving backwards i think not forward in the treatment of others.
Please dont feel this is a personal attack on you but anger against the system
Nick mawr Hope you and others will help and resolve the situation i for one are sick of reading about the problems of the elderly and weaker members of society then again this is 21st century Britain moving backwards i think not forward in the treatment of others. Please dont feel this is a personal attack on you but anger against the system steve1955
  • Score: 0

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