Benefits have not kept up with inflation. For instance, the increased rents for the housing benefit element, where rents have increased significantly but the local housing allowance stays the same. This is pricing those who have no choice but to rent privately into further difficulties. It is already difficult to make ends meet on benefits. We feel powerless about the decisions only the government can make. In simple terms we will be plunged into deeper poverty if benefits do not keep up with inflation, and the government does not care.
If benefits do not increase in line with inflation, it would mean we will become homeless. I am already in receipt of full housing benefit and I still need to pay extra to the private landlord. I struggle to cover this and energy bills, food and necessities.
It causes me anxiety on a daily basis of losing our home. We have lost 2 homes already in the last 6 years.
The council refused support with discretionary housing payments.
They are not adhering to rules of benefits where disability benefits are not to be taken into consideration when processing applications. Citizens Advice are overwhelmed and have a backlog for support.
I feel I am trying to keep my head above water and it's exhausting.
I get very down at knowing what the Conservatives think of our worth and how we are punished for not bringing in a high wage, and prejudiced for relying on benefits
I hate the minimum income floor. The council are now using our minimum income floor to calculate whether we qualify for a council tax reduction. Which means they are now charging us £200 a month because they’ve taken it away. We don’t have an extra £200 a month!
Council Houses are such a mixed bag. Like as far as housing options go, council is the safest and cheapest generally, there's better tenancy security and free repairs. But the quality of said housing, the damp I have in my new place, the mould that keeps coming back no matter how often I scrub it off. The electric shower is older than I am and many of my neighbours report complaints with theirs, including one who said hers electrocuted her! Which was when council finally replaced it. My toilet leaks, my shower sometimes randomly doesn't work and the damp (all council say about the damp is that I should wash the mould away with mould killer, like duh, and I can paint it myself if I want to, but I'm physically unable to do so, plus it's their responsibility not mine) is only a matter of time 'til it affects my asthma. But it's still better than the private market, so councils can get away with not giving us safe homes cos what else can we do about it but make the best.
I've got a friend who therorises that councils deliberately want low level support to "undesirable persons" so we can die quicker and they don't have to pay our benefits anymore. Some days I can really see what she means.
I'm also having to do my own research and data collection, which is exhausting and will cost me quite a bit when I go to the library next week to print it off, cos the NHS mental health services don't want to acknowledge my diagnosis (they say that they don't like to give people labels but that's bull, what they don't want is liability) but I can't access the right services for my care needs because they keep saying one thing and doing another. So I'm having to fight for the care needs I need. It's so depressing, makes me feel unworthy of basic care support needs.
On a bright note, a friend gifted me a disabled toilet key and it's so helpful, made a huge difference. It's often the little things that make a big difference.
How am I feeling about the new school year?
Our daughter is starting 6th form at her school in September. I am excited for her and she is very much looking forward to it. There are additional costs involved of course but our local council has extended the free school meals entitlement and when we get confirmation that will be one less financial worry. Most of the new uniform required has been covered by a uniform grant from the school which helps massively as 1 badged skirt and 1 school blazer = £89.50! We have also applied for a free bus pass for her which she can use at any time not just journeys to school. This is the most financial assistance we have ever received and it has made the summer holidays noticeably less stressful for me, for which I am very grateful. With a winter coat and shoes that still fit her, I feel I have 'got off lightly' this year.
The summer holidays can be costly. There’s additional worry about finances and the added pressure of buying school uniform. We will at least receive food vouchers from the council, which will help to alleviate the increased food costs. This year, I can only take two weeks off work. Being a solo parent with no funds to cover the cost of summer camps means I am very much reliant on the children’s grandparents and the kindness of family friends for childcare. This year we are fortunate enough to be spending a week in Cornwall, in a cottage with friends. We will be catering for ourselves and we will have to find inexpensive things to do, such as walks and exploring the coastline. It’s been some time since we’ve been away, the children really do deserve a proper holiday.
So today I received a top up from the local council of money per child to help over the summer holidays. I was panicking that I wouldn't be able to feed them so sometimes being on universal credit does allow you access to other support that is a life saver x today I'm feeling grateful
One of the often overlooked aspect of poverty, relative to the UK I mean as that's my area of experience, is the home. Council houses are great for not being on the street, and safer by far than private renting, but so hard to get into. I've moved home, the floors cos over £600 quid and that is an absolute steal! And I'm lucky. I took out a loan to pay for them and other furniture items cos my council consider a fridge freezer, washer, sofa, bed and either wardrobe or drawers, essential, the rest of the stuff needed is up to me.
I'm also super lucky that I had a housing support worker from a local charity who could advocate for me and make sure I got the washer which wasn't guaranteed as new home is within walking distance, for a person without mobility issues, of a laundrette. She fought for me and I got granted a washer. She also sorted new bills out for me and saved me the stress that is dealing with energy providers while stressed by moving. She got that sorted and set up for me, as well and updating my benefits and council tax. I've had more support from her in one week than I got for two years with the last supposed support service I had access too. It's a joke.
Hello the extra costs are so painful to fund with the 2 day notice of events that we get finding the money is hard so normally end up owing family or a friend. With a constantly growing child the school uniform is getting too much to afford and charities are so overstretched its hard getting help and the council don't help with school costs where I live making it even harder.
My youngest daughter is now 16, in the past of school holidays, I found her very lonely.
Other children from school we're taken away abroad during Easter, summer and autumn holidays. I couldn't work out how the parents could afford this and have so much time off work considering most workplaces only gave out 28 annual leave per year.
The council would put on free activity holiday clubs at the sports centre. However, the wealthier children who got holidays abroad parents seemed to be quick to book their children into these clubs on a first come first served basis. I was working and unaware of the holiday clubs advertised on social media.
It seemed unfair how some children would be allowed to attend the free holiday clubs and have 3 or 4 holidays abroad per year.
I would take my daughter for walks with our dog. Into the woods or to the beach. As if by magic, as soon as schools broke up for school holidays, the rain poured down for weeks.
On one occasional dry day walking in the woods, my daughter burst into tears and said she loved me but she felt rubbish as other children were away for a 2 week holiday abroad. The guilt would eat away at me.
For the rest of the summer holidays, other children were packed off to grandparents houses to enable the parents to work. When I was working, in holiday time it cost me more in childcare. Even the childminder took 2 weeks off in summer to take her children abroad. I had to revolve around her leave. The childminders children were mean to my daughter. I grudged every penny I handed over to the childminder knowing that I (and tax credits) was supporting her demon children to have a better quality of life than mine.
I offered other parents to look after their children to keep mine company but they had routines and free grandparent childcare, who kept them overnight and took them out for day trips, so they declined. I soon felt not good enough.
As secondary schooling commenced, my daughter's autism traits became evident and she was bullied. 6 months into 1st year of Academy, she never went back. Out of school activities such as dance camps were expensive at £100 for 5 days and tax credits did not consider these clubs as childcare. She was too old to be baby sat yet not emotionally mature to stay home herself so I could work.
All the fun, bonding and memories to be made were not there for us. I felt punished as a single parent who had to work more hours to provide basics of food and rent, whilst wealthier 2 parent families with grandparents for support got it all.
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.
Meanwhile I've been told no budgets for ASN support in education and no budgets for social care services for my disabled daughter.