It’s the third week of my task to live on the equivalent of incapacity benefit (£89.80 a week in my case) and a disabled friend of mine just emailed me to ask how I’m getting on. From a financial point of view, it’s going ok. I’ve just about managed to stay within budget by trying not to go out and watching what I’m spending in the supermarket. I had a bad cold last week so I didn’t feel like doing much anyway. But looking at our monthly outgoings, it’s only with my other half DJ paying his share of everything that we’d be able to keep our heads above water if I was on IB for real. £89.80 (the actual amount claimants receive varies wildly) is obviously slightly more than the jobseeker’s allowance – for those of you who have raised this issue, check out the Jobseeker’s challenge which I carried out earlier this year – but the extra money still doesn’t go far. The biggest worry would be if there was a major one-off bill which came in – last month our water bill would have put a big squeeze on the budget – or if something goes wrong in the home, such as the washing machine or car breaking down etc. I’m wondering realistically how we would afford to keep the car on the road. We had to get it fixed earlier this year and the garage bill was £500. I realise that some claimants can lease a car via the motobility scheme and get help towards adaptions and insurance, but there are still running costs to pay for.
Christmas must be another headache. I’m putting together my shopping list at the moment and wondering how anyone on IB, or any other benefits for that matter, could afford much for their loved ones unless they have scrimped and saved all year. A jobseeker left a message on the blog last week saying he’d had to explain to his kids that Father Christmas wouldn’t be bringing them anything this year. No matter how much you tell yourself that Christmas isn’t about presents, telling your kids you can’t afford to buy them anything must be heartbreaking.
But the aspect of this challenge I’m finding the most difficult is getting my head around how dramatically my life would change if I was really chronically ill or disabled and unable to work. Gradually or even overnight you may become completely dependent on family and carers to do things for you. You may be struggling every day with pain, sickness and having to take medication. In this situation many people lose their jobs and even their friends desert them because they can’t cope with their mate being ill or they don’t want to know. I was in touch with someone I knew years ago recently who in those days had a responsible job. Now, due to illness, she has lost her job, relies heavily on her partner to do things around the house, struggles to concentrate and says that she has lost many friends because of her situation. She is an intelligent person and has found this, along with other people’s attitudes, difficult to come to terms with. I think I would too. It must also be incredibly tough for the person’s family to cope with because disability and illness is something that affects the entire family unit, not just the individual.
Is your family member or partner disabled or ill? Are you a carer? What issues do you face and how do you cope? Leave a message and let me know.
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