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Welfare agony for crippled man

Maria Bradshaw

Welfare agony for crippled man

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A?wheelchair user who has been on state support for the past 20 years got the shock of his life when Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) turned off his electricity because the Welfare Department had not paid the bill for a year.
Brian Moore, who is crippled from the waist down following a gunshot injury which he sustained in 1991, said he was told by BL&P?when they turned up at his house on Wednesday morning that the bill had not been paid since May last year and it had a balance of $1 361.
The man, who resides at River Land, St Philip, said he had no clue that the Department was not paying the bill, pointing out that he felt embarrassed and disrespected because it was never drawn to his attention.
“Even though I?am crippled I try to do things to help myself so I started raising some chickens and I have a small shop. I?feel somebody told them that I was doing these things but if they wanted me to pay the bill myself then come and tell me, don’t leave me in the dark. But they don’t pay it for over a year and now there is all of this money to pay,” he cried.
Moore said he spent the entire day on Wednesday calling the Welfare Department but got no one to listen to his plight.
“I called the office in Roebuck Street and asked to speak to the Chief Welfare Officer.
“The woman asked me what I wanted her for and after I?explained what had happened she told me I?could not speak to the Chief about that and to contact my welfare officer. I called for her the entire day and up to now I?have not reached her.”
Moore, 43, who lives alone, said he had experienced a similar situation last year with his water bill which is also paid for by the Welfare Department.
He said he did not feel comfortable living in darkness because three weeks ago three masked men carrying guns broke and entered his house in the night, bound, gagged and beat him and then stole his welfare cheque and cash.
“I think it is totally unreasonable for the Welfare Department to do this to people. If they have an issue then they need to come and discuss it with the client but they cannot just decide that they are no longer paying the bills,” he stated.
Up until yesterday, Moore said he still had not reached anyone from the Welfare Department to deal with the matter.
Chief Welfare Officer Pat Watts also could not be reached yesterday as she was said to be out of office.