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Caught in a time trap

Patricia Matthews, a primary teacher in Wales, is typical of those whose relatives have been caught by the Budget threshold changes.

Both her mother and an aunt are in residential care in Northern Ireland. Her mother went into care in 1993 with savings of Pounds 26,000. By April 1 she will have Pounds 4,795 left - mid-way between the old and the new lower thresholds. Mrs Matthews's aunt is in a similar position, with savings of Pounds 5,400.

Mrs Matthews is one of many carers who is supporting a Help the Aged campaign to win an interim payment for those caught between the two thresholds.

She believes that "Those people who are down to Pounds 3,000 should get one-off payments of Pounds 7,000." Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, says: "This interim period is unfair to senior citizens and we would like to hear from anyone caught between the two thresholds."

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