A morbidly obese woman who says she needs help from the moment she gets up in the morning is at the centre of a High Court battle after being told her dependency on the state is making her “worse rather than better”.
A judge was told there is disagreement between the woman and Plymouth City Council over the amount of publicly-funded assistance that should be provided to her.
Her lawyers say she suffers from acute anxiety, has a history of self-harm and drug overdoses and needs 50 hours of care a week, including help getting dressed and going to her local shops.
But the local authority pointed out at London’s High Court this week that she managed to attend a concert of her favourite band The Wanted on her own.
James Dixon, appearing for Plymouth, said it was recognised she suffered a personality disorder and the council acknowledged the genuineness of her “subjective” beliefs about her care needs.
But he contended there was evidence she could do far more for herself than she believed, and too much dependence on social workers would actively harm her.
The woman is seeking a ruling the local authority is legally obliged to provide her with support from social workers for everyday activities including washing, dressing and cooking her meals.
It is also argued she should be accompanied when she goes shopping, or to the gym for “weight management” classes, or to a Friday night disco.
The council stated the woman claimed she needed help to use a washing machine but there was evidence she was able to operate a computer and games console.
The local authority also submitted she had become “emotionally and psychologically dependent” on council-funded support”.
Irena Sabic, appearing for the woman, said her care needs were recognised by the council until last May when “direct payments” enabling her to live in a supported home were withdrawn.
Judge Stephen Males QC ordered the council to provide for the woman’s “immediate and urgent” needs until the case comes to a full hearing in May.
It is understood this will give her help with washing, cooking, cleaning and shopping but not getting to the gym or disco.