Dear friends Below is part of the letter I have sent to my MP, for all the good it will do. It repeats some of my original posting but keeps it all in context. If I get no help from the MP then I will take it further, not just for my own cause but also to help highlight the inadequacies of the system when it comes to helping Carers to care! On 20th Feb 2008 I returned to Kent after over 2 years service in the remote bush of S Africa as a volunteer aid-worker working with AIDS affected orphans and vulnerable children with a British NGO. I returned because of the declining health of my mother. I gave up my career with the NHS (National Blood Service) and sold my posessions to raise the funds to get to S Africa. On my return, although living in lodgings and seeking a permanent home for myself (I am a single person) I was able to secure a wonderful full time job in The Chaucer Hospital in Canterbury. My 83 year old mother died suddenly on 24th May leaving my father of 86 who has severe Alzheimers.He cannot be left alone. To save him having to go into an EMI nursing home, I have very reluctantly given up my new job and moved into his one bedroomed Sheltered Accommodation flat in Lyminge while we are on the waiting list for a 2 bed roomed. I am prepared to live frugally on Carer's Allowance with a top up from Income Support as I am used to living with a reduced income in S Africa. However, this morning I have received a letter from the DWP to say that my claim for Carer's Allowance has been refused. The reason stated is that I have not been in Great Britain for at least 26 out of the last 52 weeks. I have phoned them and they have told me I can appeal but that this is the Governments ruling. I have phoned Income Support who were also appalled at this decision. They told me they will still give me Income Support, but because I will not be claiming Carer's Allowance it will be£27.75 a week less than if I was claiming Carers Allowance. With C.All. my income would have been £88.25 a week. Now it will be only £60.50 a week. In 13 weeks I can claim and receive Carers Allowance but that is a long time off and I have to live now. I will lose nearly £400 altogether. I have no savings and no other income now I have left my job. My father has only his pension and Attendance Allowance. My willingness to take on full time care of my severely demented father means I am saving the Government an awful lot of money in paid Carers and a specialised, EMI Nursing Home, yet I am being penalised for being out of the country doing charity work for no income. It was not a holiday!Even if it was, what difference could it possibly make to my legitimate claim for this small financial assistance? I could appeal this decision but I am sure it will come back as "Government policy", no one looks at individual circumstances. Carer's Allowance is very meagre anyway as it is not seen as a job, even though it is a 24 hour, 7 days a week job but to be refused even this Allowance to care for my dad is just too awful. It is insulting.