Incapacity benefit challenge: Week Three

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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10 Responses to Incapacity benefit challenge: Week Three

  1. caren says:

    My thoughts are with you Piper. I have myself lived off Incapacity Benefit. It is a good job you are great with frugal. I am so glad you have made people aware of this, keep up the good work & will add to this at some point, all my love, Caren …

  2. patricia says:

    i lost my job a few years ago due to disabilities and like you said all my friends went with it. i have struggled with benifits since losing my job and now i\’m in the process of losing my home. i feel the goverment are doing nothing to help homeowners in my circumstances to keep their homes. if i was in council or private rented accomaditon i would be entittled to housing benifit ,as a homeowner when the bank of england reduced there interest rates the benifit agency cut my housing costs till thirteen pounds a week and ten pence a week income support. they did not care that my mortgage company did\’nt pass on the interest cuts to me. unfortunately i am like so many homeowners who\’s home\’s are in negetive equitty and don\’t have a good credit record so therefore am unable to benifit from a bank or building society mortgage where i could maybe get a decent rate that i could afford. maybe if the government set up a bank/society that could help people like me instead of pouring tax payers money into the banks we have to day then there would be less homeless people. also another thought has come to me that gordon brown should step in and do some thing about , the government makes people on benifits have bank accounts to receive their benifits and the banks are taking charges of thirty pounds out of their benifits if they are over drawn, wait until that happens during your incapacity challange and you lose your benifit for the week as i\’m sure that happens regulary when your on benifits.it\’s not easy living on benifits especially when you have disabilities. at the end of the day i did\’nt choose this life, as i also have a husband and son with disabilities and was the sole earner in my house hold.

  3. Liz says:

    I have a disabled son, I am his sole carer as I have been divorced for 15yrs. His dad is re-married and doesn\’t have any thing to do with him, it interfers with their hollidays! My one major sickener is my carers allowance is classed as income, so it is taken out of my income support!!!!!! I get just over £50 a week carers, and a few quid income support. The government act like they are giving us some thing, yet they take it back off me with the other hand. If I were to put him into \’care in the community\’ it would cost around £500 a week, so we get left to get on with it. Think what the cost would be for 24-7 care for a person, I and people like me just get on with it, he is my son and I will care for him all his life, the government know this and just exploit us. I try to stay possitive, in 15yrs we have managed to save up for a 5 day stay in Blackpool, do you know, we loved every minute of it, it was like winning the lottery, we lived every minute of that holiday as best we could. I have got used to being frowned upon when asked if I work, you can see the \’scum\’ look creep accross thie faces, I don\’t care any more, well try not to, I would give any thing to have a healthy son and be out there keeping myself, but I can not. Still, I have a fantastic lad who I will treasure for ever. We always hear of all the \’help\’ there is out there for us…………yeah right….with all the cuts and stuff it\’s like bangng your head on a brick wall. The government are always spouting off they are doing this and that…………only on paper and at election time……..when in fact there isn\’t the money to do it! So we get on with it the best we can. What other option is there.

  4. marc says:

    Just over 3 years ago I became ill and to cut a long story short, my employer had slowly poisened my lungs over the 2 years that i worked there. I had to make huge changes and now live on £84.50 per week I.C benefit.My biggest fear is paying bills and keeping warm, after the recent gas and electricity price rises, i had to ask a local charity for help, as my bills were 4 times their normal levels.I do not drink, smoke, or go out and my only treat is a fish and chip supper once a fortnight and i no longer watch tv, my kids are pretty good and do not ask for to much, as a lack of money causes me untold stress.My biggest gripe is that i do not have enough of anything for those little surprises we all like to give from time to time.A final thought is that has i contiue to suffer, my employer (who as never once contacted me) still trades as nothing every happened.In reality i have been given a load of prescription drugs, a few quid and left to get on with life, or as i prefer to call it to,"SUFFER IN SILENCE."Marc

  5. brian says:

    try and live on job seekers allowance,there,s a challenge. you go to the job centre and are dealt with by a load of people who are on good wages and who get paid on or off,they dont know their born.when you go to a job centre most jobs displayed have gone and when you look at all the staff you wonder ,what are they all doing?

  6. Len says:

    I became a Type 2 diabetic some 14 years ago and my health has deteriorated ever since. I have now also been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine, kness & feet. Having been very active all my life and having worked overseas for most of my life whilst still paying my NI in the UK, I feel that slowly everything has been taken away from me and I am having to rely on others to assist me more and more. With time on my hands I have visited the Job Centre only to be told that as I am over 60 (63) I do not take preference!! I thought there was no discrimination!! I have also discussed trying to obtain some sort of incapacity benefit as I am now no longer medically able to work unless I am able to sit down all of the time. I am still trying to find somebody that can help me through all of the red tape, as the people behind the desks dont seem to have the experience to guide people through this red tape \’minefield\’. Previously I was the main earner in the household, now I feel that I am just a liability to my wife who is struggling to carry on working just to keep our heads above wayer. All of our savings are now gone and I am now worried how we are going to continue to pay our mortgage.

  7. steve says:

    If you were really on IB and your partner was working, the aount of benefit that you would be awarded would be a lot less than the £89 that you have. Myself and my wife are on IB. We are estranged from each other bart share the same house as we are each others carers. We get no help with running our home apart from a small fraction towards the rent and council tax, we aren\’t entitled to help with prescription charges whic come to just over £50 per month. I\’m not disabled enough to get a mobility car so we have to run our own vehicle. We aren\’t entitled to a carers allowance. If we were and received it we would then lose that amount out of our IB. All these lucky able bodied employed people sit on the butts and criticise people on IB. Up until 4 years ago I had everything. I lost it all, and I do mean all, due to an accident at work for which I wasn\’t entitled to compensation. For 4 years all I\’ve been told by the government departments that are supposed to help is "you\’re not entitled".It makes you want to take all your medication in one go along with a bottle of vodka(not that I could afford a bottle of vodka).You\’ve only scratched the surface with this little excercise of yours. No income means no credit is available to you. To set up a phone line or an internet connection means that you have to pay a deposit because you have no credit score. We live in a house that has an oil fired boiler. The oil run out 2 days ago. We have no heat or hot water. We\’re "not entitled" to any help because the government says that we onlyneed £100 per week to live on and we have more then that coming in

  8. shirley says:

    no we cannot manage I have had to go into debt management to try and make things work but it is hard very hard the only thing i worry about is my husbands health as we have been told we cannot get any more money to help out. so we have to get by on nothing sometimes we cannot pay our bills . i think the govenment would rather we were dead and not around if i was an imigrant i would get all the help i would need it is so unfair my husband was in the war and i was in the army so i have in away earnt a bit of respect from this country.

  9. tony says:

    A short term excersise is all very well and good, but only concerns itself with the finincial struggle, and with the knowledge its not real, does not even begin to experience you with the long term depression and feeling of hopelessness. Utlity bills, rent, water rates, phones, internet, car fuel/tax/mot/maintainance, clothes, TV, healthy food, children, going out…….all long term \’withouts\’ and with little social manouvreability prospects. At least its more than the £64 income support of which I pay out £20 direct debits before thinking about fuel bills and food. The problem will get worsen if the Tories get in, they will push for hardship allowance to all those not able to work and to those who have not worked for long time periods, all the while they claim, and still claim £25 per day for tea and cake while at westminster

  10. piper says:

    Believe me – from reading all your comments & messages and talking to people, I\’m well aware of the fact that this exercise can only give a microscopic insight into the struggles real people on IB are suffering. How can it otherwise when it is only for 3 weeks? And I know that many people are on far less than the £89 a week. I\’ve also tried to touch a little on the emotional and psychological/practical aspects of it too, which you\’ll see if you read some of the other posts. But if it gets people talking about the issue and showing others that not everybody on IB is a benefit fraudster, then I think it\’s a positive thing. Thanks again for everybody\’s comments and stories.

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