Katie Price – Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother has been a hot topic of conversation recently and the latest story is the argument between Katie Hopkins, the outspoken television personality and Katie Price, model, business woman and mother to 12-year-old Harvey, who has autism, is blind and has the medical condition septo-optic dysplasia. The row erupted over the fact that Harvey travels to his specialist school in London via a tax payers funded taxi. The family live in West Sussex.
Ms Price, defended the right for her son to access a taxi, paid for by tax payers money as she herself pays taxes. She also said that as her son attends a specialist school and has a Statement of Special Educational Needs, he has the right to access such a service.
A transcript from the row can be seen below, taken from Mail Online.
KATIE PRICE: The driver who takes Harvey is funded by the government. Because he has a driver and a nurse who sits in the car with him.
KATIE HOPKINS: What if you provided that privately, so you got a driver and a someone?
PRICE: Do you know how f***ing expensive that would be? Ridiculous. To have a driver to day to take me to London and back is up to a grand a day. Because they count the time taken going from their house to pick you up, the time taking you there then going back, and then again going there and back. It’s a ridiculous amount, that would be a stupid amount a week.
HOPKINS: With the amount you earn, I’d find that tricky when you can afford it yourself.
PRICE: I just do it that way, it’s like – I pay my taxes so if I can make a statement I will. My job is not guaranteed money each year, it changes all the time so you can’t always go on that.
HOPKINS: I’ve always held that if you can afford to pay for something you should pay for it and you shouldn’t rely on the government, I think that’s wrong.
PRICE: But then something could happen to me, so I actually disagree for once with you.
Ms Price, said on Celebrity Big Brother:
‘The driver who takes Harvey is funded by the government. Because he has a driver and a nurse who sits in the car with him.’
Ms Price’s management have issued the following statement in full:
‘Harvey’s school placement was assessed and agreed by the Local authority. When this was done transport costs were included in the calculation.
‘This was done because Harvey has a Statement of Special Educational Needs because of his disabilities. Within this Statement it includes the name of the school Harvey must attend.
‘Where any child that is placed in a school out of their immediate home area it is the Local Authorities DUTY to provide transport that meets the child’s needs. This is common practice for all disabled children as there are not enough suitable schools available to them.
‘The cost of the school placement together with transport is not means tested as it is provided for the child. Local Authorities do not have special needs schools locally as these have been closed during the last 15 years as it was deemed a cheaper option to transport children out of borough. If Harvey’s school was on his doorstep, as with schools for healthy children, then this would not apply but it was the Governments choice to close the special needs schools.
‘The education law states that the local authority must provide transport to and from the school that is named in the statement. This must be appropriate to the child’s needs and include the provision of an escort (in Harvey’s case a nurse) who is trained to cope with the child’s medical needs.
‘The escort (nurse) is because Harvey’s condition is life threatening and he has to have someone capable of giving emergency injections to save his life.
‘Kate’s calculation of £1000 per day is based on hiring her private driver and a private nurse, to drive to and from her home to Harvey’s school twice a day (which is 1.5 hrs drive each way). This is not the sum that local authority pays.
Sources: Hugo Gye and Sam Matthew on the Mail Online: ‘The council has a DUTY to take Harvey to and from school’: Katie Price comes out fighting in benefits row over taxpayers’ bill for taxis for her disabled son
Claire Rutter on the Mirror website: CBB fans “not impressed” after millionaire Katie Price admits she has tax-funded driver and nurse for disabled son
What do you think? Should those who can afford to pay for services be able to access government funded services? Where does one draw the line?