Day 2 of this rain. I went as far as the wheely bin in the garden but never bothered to get dressed. Not much point putting on clean clothes to sit in the house.
Lots of flooding shown on social media. Feeling the loneliness today.
Nobody has made contact with me. I could try first contact with someone else, but I feel stuck for what to say without depressing them. Radiator downstairs is not heating up. It's constant repairs in this house. Can hear drips of rain come down the chimney. I am grateful for the reward for the extra I provided for this project. I only went and messed up wanting to spend it online.
I missed alerter out on my email. I filled in online form for help from love to shop and hope to hear soon.
I googled how to raise extra money. There are apps to do surveys and watch adverts for pennies. It's frustrating as I have no motivation. Feel spaced out and drowsy on these meds. Sitting waiting for HMRC to send a letter for tax credits to stop, to make a claim for U.C is anxiety provoking. Do they give you notice of a date?
I really would not be surprised if benefits are not increased in line with inflation. There is no understanding in this government about how much it costs for families to live a normal, healthy lifestyle without the constant worry about how people will be able to feed themselves and their children, and cover the cost of rising bills. A lot of bills like broadband and phones rise in line with inflation plus a percentage more each year, leaving families in more financial difficulty. This, I find, is extremely tough as I am one of those who is still on Legacy benefits, who have not seen any sort of increase for several years even during the cost of living crisis, which is continuing despite what they want us to think.
If, next April, all benefits are not increased in line with inflation, I genuinely believe that we will end up malnourished and needing hospital treatment or simply freezing to death in our home, unable to put the heating and lights on even for a short period of time. I am now unable to remember the last time I ate a cooked meal or used the heating, I am now not even boiling the kettle in order to make a hot drink. There are just no more areas to cut back on so if there is no increase in benefit rates in April it will have a devasting affect on myself and my daughter, who is already struggling to work her way through school studying for her A levels. A rise in all benefits is the minimum that the government needs to announce in order for those living on a low income to even think about surviving through another long cold winter.
A lot of people are approaching me about the fact they have been catapulted onto Universal Credit. I have some experience of UC and work with a UC group. It seems the same problems that arise for me many years ago are still prevalent now. I am worried about the summer months and yet some of these people in my community aren’t getting any money for 5 weeks as there is a 5 week wait. It just shows that there are other people in much worse situations.
Specifically with the DWP, I personally dread the process of a change in circumstances no matter whether positive or otherwise. It's always a time of uncertainty, worrying how it will impact our finances. Also there's always the possibility any changes in my health will trigger another assessment which would be a real inconvenience to us. I worry it would be like starting all over again from scratch or it could take months to complete as I believe they are so far behind with claims.
Likewise the local authority has to be notified of changes in status or circumstances. I particularly feel the phrasing they both use to get their message across implies threat or significant consequences for not doing so urgently. i.e. "You must tell us immediately"....
Last year we moved house so I anticipated a bumpy ride in respect of my details needing to be verified or changes in payments. It's like throwing stone on a pond some create ripples some can turn to waves or some even turn into a tsunami depending on how dramatic the changes are.
I do remember feeling as though the DWP didn't believe me when they needed to ask for further documents to prove I was living here. How a tenancy agreement wasn't good enough proof, I just can't imagine, but they wanted more information and when you've only just moved house you're not necessarily going to have that to hand. It took time to change utility bills or update my bank account with the new address which especially in the days of paperless bills can take time to process. I mean it was enough of a mess switching energy companies, in order to have gas and electric supplies set up with my preferred supplier. Then internet and water utilities, never mind satisfying the DWP further than I had already tried to.
Not as though we can predict our futures, however, I personally prefer to avoid changes in circumstances at all costs.
Following on from my last post about the deterioration in my son's mental health, I am further demoralised & dismayed by the discovery that I will no longer receive Child Benefit or Child Tax Credits (including disabled child benefit & severe disability premium) if my son takes up an apprenticeship in the new academic year. As a disabled young man, I didn't envisage this being a possibility just yet. It will impact my household income dramatically. I just don't know how I'm going to cope. And with the threat of having to migrate from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit in the near future, I feel doomed to destitution yet again.
Informing DWP of a change in circumstances brings nothing but bad memories to me. Seven years ago my partner who was working left the family home, leaving me with the responsibility of looking after our daughter. When I phoned to report this, child tax credits were stopped immediately along with my daughters free school meals. I was told that I would have to change over to universal credit or continue to survive on the new style ESA as a single person. On top of this the child benefit was being paid into my partners account, which took almost 2 years before it was paid directly to me as they needed my ex partner to inform them of this, during which time I did not receive any financial or other help from my ex in order to support our daughter. I also did not receive any help or advice from DWP in gaining information about where to go for help. It was only through joining Covid /Changing realities, that I started to find out about other help available such as water help with the cost of water bills, food banks, etc. Until this time I had been left broken, financially, mentally and physically, by the very people who are supposed to help and support those in desperate need, struggling to survive and support their children.
I am still receiving legacy benefits.
A change in circumstances of moving to another area will mean I will cross over to Universal Credit.
I used an online benefit calculator which resulted in a drop of £332 per month of income if I made the change, however if I waited until the DWP make the change over to UC, then the amount of income would not change.
I am angry and confused why this is. There wouldn't be any more income coming into the household.
It is affecting my mental health. Anxiety of dropping income as struggling as it is as alone parent.
It prompted me to decide not to make the move. I feel trapped and controlled by the Government of choices I want to make that would improve our quality of life.
I think that currently when you report a change in circumstance to the DWP, the system is very rigid, and that even though you have to declare a change in circumstance whenever it happens by law, often it feels like you get penalised for doing so.
An example of this, was when I reported a change in circumstances to the DWP regarding my PIP claim, as my medication had changed.
As a result of me reporting this to them, the DWP stopped my claim, and I had to re-apply for my PIP all over again from scratch.
In fact, once I had reapplied, I had to be reassessed all over again, and this time round, the DWP only awarded me 7 points (you need a minimum of 8 points to qualify for the standard amount of PIP) which meant that I had to request a 'Mandatory Reconsideration' in order to justify why I needed the extra point in order to have my payments restored once again. A Mandatory Reconsideration is the process that you have to go through before you can request an appeal to have your case heard in court.
It was a very frustrating process and experience for me and I lost out financially.
I think what needs to change is for there to be less layers of bureaucracy regarding reporting a change and for there to be more trust between the DWP and claimants once again.
From my point of view, six, seven years ago now, when my ex wife left and my circumstances drastically changed, we were on child tax credit and because I notified them that my wife had left me, that then called chaos. And I ended up with six weeks of no payments while I got full onto Universal Credit because I was a registered carer as well. I still am for my youngest daughter. That as well, when payments went down by 34 pound a week because I wasn't a couple. Which is a bit kind of ludicrous, really, because you're struggling on your own more than when you are the couple. So that was mind boggling. But no, I haven't had a good experience of changing over from one to the other or much support at all in the benefit system. I'm currently not able to work due to disabilities and because I'm on universal credit and I spoke to ESA and they went, 'well, you do qualify but universal credit would just take the money off you so you won't gain anything at all from that'. So I had the benefits of DWP. To me, there's no point claiming employment support long term sick because give it for one hand and take it with the other. And because I still claim carer's allowance because it helps me budget, they pay weekly so that's my weekly food bill when universal credit is monthly, which I use on my main bills and my rent, they also take off my carers allowance as well. So no, I've not had a positive experience of one benefit system talking to the other one at all.
I have an ongoing claim for housing benefit, but this can be difficult when things like the rent amount payable changes as you have to fill in forms and send documents that they already have on record, which then causes delays in payments.
The biggest thing for me is wanting to move home to a quieter area that my daughter is grown up. To move or exchange properties to a different area would mean making a new claim for benefits, which would ultimately mean switching to universal credit. This makes it extremely difficult as on top of moving expenses, there would be a delay in receiving the first payment, which would push me into debt, that I simply can not afford.
I moved home in November 2022, into a different borough. I spent almost £800 on moving costs, and had to borrow money from family members in order to afford it. I searched to see if there was any support I could apply for and applied for a DHP which was rejected. Moving into my new home became a stressful experience, and I ended up not being able to buy simple things for my home like bedding and wardrobes because I had to pay back the money I owed. There was a difficult transitional period with UC, as my housing costs had changed and I had reported this on the same day as my move. Despite this, I immediately fell into rent arrears because UC took a long time to update my details. Before I knew it, I owed over £2,000 with my landlord calling me to ask why the rent had not been paid. As someone who suffers with longstanding anxiety and depression, this time became almost unbeareable. The same issue arose again when the rent increase happened in April. It is very hard to get through to anyone in UC to explain or ask what is going on with your claim.
It's really satisfying & empowering to read, see or listen to the fruits of everyone's labour. I am of course referring to everything we do collectively but more recently the briefing on UC & it's impacts on the mental health of lone parents (of which I am one myself), also the 'Listening to all Voices' was good to revisit because I had forgotten about taking part in the recording so I was positively surprised to hear myself speaking!
In my humble opinion wish that Universal Credit had never been thought of. Not as though it was ever likely to be a good idea from the get go. Wish it could be replaced or we could return to legacy benefits or something else much better for everyone.
Nevertheless, Bravo everyone. I applaud each & everyone of you for your involvement no matter what.