IT has been her full-time job every day for almost 50 years.
Margaret Tobutt has devoted her life to caring for her twin boys, who have severe learning difficulties and disabilities.
The 72-year-old has saved Southampton City Council hundreds of thousands of pounds by keeping Mark and Allan, 49, at home when she could easily have put them into the system where they would be found accommodation and given carers to look after them.
But the small yet significant weekly rent allowance they both receive has helped her to carry out essential repairs from damage they cause, from broken chairs and toilet seats to wornout carpets and broken banisters.
Now council chiefs are planning to remove that vital £40 a week from each of her son’s benefits – leaving Margaret worried about how she and her sons will afford to continue to live together.
Changes have been made to the adult social care budget, which will see Margaret and 90 other families who care for vulnerable adults hit by funding cuts.
Council chiefs say a review of the finances unearthed the payments which they claim they should never have been making in the first place, as it was unfair compared to other care users in the city. Under the proposals, home day care, used by 2,300 mainly elderly people, will also be hit, with huge hikes in the cost of the service.
It’s a decision that has angered both families and opposition councillors so much that it has been called in for review in the hope it can be put on hold.
Margaret, who has lived with and cared for her sons singlehandedly for the past 30 years, said: “I am very angry with the council because they are attacking the wrong people – the vulnerable people.
“They need to listen to us and rethink this, and if they are in any doubt they want to come and try it for themselves first.
She added: “They say they’ve had a consultation, but I had no knowledge of any meetings about this and I would have liked to have known. We are saving the city council millions of pounds by choosing to care for our children, who are adults, at home.”
As well as severe learning difficulties, Mark and Allan also have conditions which affect their limbs, balance and coordination.
Tasks like washing the dishes, cooking and loading a washing machine are impossible for them.
The twins spend several days a week visiting day centres, but need constant supervision when they are at home.
Margaret said: “I only put the heating on when the boys are home, because I cannot afford it the rest of the time, and I have to budget for everything we want to do. I am worried. I don’t know how I will cope once the money has gone.”
More stories about Southampton's cuts