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Caring Choices Day centre which supports adults with severe learning disabilities in Manor Road, Chatham set to close

A day centre which has become a lifeline for adults with profound learning disabilities is set to close after falling into financial problems.

Caring Choices, a private company which looks after 45 vulnerable people, is said to owe a substantial amount of money after a change in the law over the payment of VAT.

Caring Choices in Manor Road, Chatham. Photo: Google
Caring Choices in Manor Road, Chatham. Photo: Google

Directors of the organisation, based in Manor Road, Chatham, are reported as saying they now have no alternative but to go into liquidation.

If the matter is not resolved, it could close by the end of next month throwing the future of its clients into doubt and relying on their desperately hard-pushed families to look after their loved ones.

Cllr David Brake, (Con) portfolio holder for adult services, said the council which supports the service had "no advance warning" of the impending shutdown.

He said: "We will do all we can to help, but we can't pay their VAT bill. That's out of the question."

Mum Dawn Harris, whose Down's syndrome son Jamie, 29, attends the centre three times a week is "gobsmacked" by the news.

Dawn Harris and her son Jamie who has Down's syndrome
Dawn Harris and her son Jamie who has Down's syndrome

The 60-year-old from Twydall, said: "The staff there are wonderful, part of the family and they are there to support families.

"We are talking about human beings being forgotten in all this, It seems that VAT comes before care.

"It has been amazing for Jamie. He needs interaction and he has made friends. He doesn't understand that he might not be able to go there."

Dad Graham Tanner, whose daughter Rhiannon, 27, has attended for the last nine years, said: "This has come completely out of the blue.

"We were told to go to a meeting at the centre last week. There were people crying. My daughter needs 24/7 care.

"We have been told it will be gone by the end of August and we have no idea what we are going to do."

Rhiannon with dad Graham Tanner
Rhiannon with dad Graham Tanner

The 60-year-old service engineer who lives in Woodlands Road, Gillingham with wife Sharon, added: "This a lifeline for us as a family. Rhiannon is non verbal and can't do anything for herself. She does not know what's going on.

"It's hit us like a bomb."

Cllr Teresa Murray said the Labour group would seek to put in a temporary bridging loan and help Caring Choices put together a recovery plan.

She added: "Caring Choices give meaningful activity to some of the most vulnerable people in our community who suffered the most under Covid when the facilities had to close and have been victims of vicious benefit cuts under the Tories.

"Labour will be pushing Cllr Brake to act quickly and save this vital service which gives much need, support and respite to families as well as those who use the day centre."

Caring Choices has been approached for comment.

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