Great news for me. After years of failed applications, I have finally been awarded the basic rate of PIP. After being offered help to work through the form and seek medical evidence it turns out that I had not understood the forms correctly and been completing them wrong. I don't think this extra help is going to directly ease any problems I am facing in my personal life, but it will mean that I can let my daughter use the heating occasionally during the winter months, also enabling me to provide for her in a reasonable way during her final year of A levels. I will now be able to buy some fresher and healthier food to feed her and some suitable warm clothes for the coming winter months. My daughter has always been understanding about how difficult it is being part of a single parent family, but now I feel I may be able to make her life slightly easier.
I am feeling anxious about approaching winter. This is because of we would need to keep our house warm and I hope that my energy bills will be affordable.
All I seem to be able to think about at the minute is money and how much worse it’s going to get in winter. My doctor has prescribed medication for my anxiety again because I’m constantly on edge and worrying about it.
My plans for this winter are literally probably just to heat the only like during the day, just to heat the room I'm in using a fan heater. Then once my daughter comes home from school in the evening, just to put the heating on for a few hours, I normally have the heating on for an hour, then it's off for an hour or two and then it's back on. It going for an hour. And that's how I sort of keep it going until we go to bed. Just to limit the amount of gas that we use. We're on a prepayment meter and the costs are ridiculous and all that. Most of the time we run in and off the emergency credit. You put money on the meter to pay off the emergency and it just takes for the emergency and the debt, you just end up in this big circle of constantly running on the emergency gas. So, yeah, I'm just going to hopefully get through this winter by using an electric fan heater as and when.
The dates for the next cost of living payments have been announced for those most in need. But as usual I am stuck in a position that leaves me with no help at all this winter. Claiming Legacy benefits which I receive as a single person despite having a school age child to support, I am not able to claim tax credits or income related benefits, so apart from child benefit we have to struggle with the little we do get that was also not increased in line with other benefits in April. The government needs to look at the situation urgently and make changes. My daughter and I will be forced to survive through winter without the use of heating or lighting and very little warm healthy food. I don't want charity and handouts I just want to be treated like a human being in a safe and fair society.
Not looking forward to autumn and winter, can't afford heating on a low income.
I have been enjoying the warm weather recently, despite complaining that I could not afford an ice cream, but now the temperature has dropped its reminded me that the long cold winter months are fast approaching. Some people seem to be thinking the cost of living crisis is over but for millions of families it's certainly not. There will be no warm home for myself and my daughter again this year, as there is simply no way I can afford the cost of heating while living on legacy benefits alone. In supermarkets the price of food is still high and package sizes are also dropping. I mainly survive on food that does not require cooking now as I am constantly having to make cutbacks wherever possible to avoid ending up in dept. Legacy benefits do not increase with other benefits so every year and every price increase is putting more strain on the money we do receive to survive on.
Certainly not, while the price of some things has gone back down a bit in price such as gas, electricity and fuel, there are still millions of families like mine that are going to have no choice but to leave the heating turned off this winter and stay cold in our own homes due to the cost. I am unable to afford to cook food on a daily basis, often having to eat cold meals instead that do not require the use of gas or electricity. In the shops the price of some foods has also come down slightly such as fruit and vegetables but again the cost of fresh fruit is still far too high to enable us to afford the recommended amount, also I am sure most people have noticed that apart from price increases in a lot of supermarket prices there has also been a reduction in the amount / size of package simply meaning another increase.
I also feel this has a larger effect on those receiving Legacy benefits that did not get any increase along with other benefits earlier in the year and also missed out on most cost of living payments. My situation on Legacy benefits means myself and my daughter are living on the same amount as we we were five years ago apart from the small increase in child benefit, with no help from my previous partner this is all we have to survive on. So simply, NO the cost of living crisis is not over and is yet a long way off. I am starting to lose hope that anything will change for low income families no matter what government is in place within my lifetime. Whenever there is a price increase in utility bills, internet connection, food or anything else it means I have to make more and more cutbacks in other areas to stay afloat.
It is not a case of if and when things will change, it is NOW that changes must be made in order for a fairer society where we can all have a reasonable standard of living, bring up our families to have the best possible start in life that is achievable and be in a situation to lift themselves out of a life of poverty.
It's really hard to plan for the future financially at the minute because there's no excess funds. I was on at the media recently and they asked this question how do you feel about the government telling people that they need to save now for the winter? Well, I just couldn't believe it because at the end of the day, people are already struggling. I'm affected by the 20 pound uplift already that was taken away a long time ago, also by the hunger payments for free school meals. And literally there are no extra funding and no extra money. So how are people supposed to think about the future when they're just being forced and plunged into thinking about the now and the then and here and the now? It's literally crazy that even the government have these expectations of people to start saving now for even the winter. I mean, you can't. And with the lack of hunger payments for the free the people entitled to free school meals, I'm really struggling this summer and it's only going to get worse.
I'm worried already that I move my child schools because of his additional needs, but he's not that high up in the spectrum in order to get transportation help. So now I'm going to have this extra money every month that I don't even know where I'm getting it from, but I keep him in a school that doesn't cater for his needs because I can't afford to send them on a bus, or do I go on a bus with them and just suffer the consequences of the amount of money that it's going to cost? I'm not even laughing and saying this, but people are going to have to sell kidneys. You can't think of the future because there's just not enough money to go around and.
It. Yeah, we've had support. Yeah, we've had support from the local council, London Borough in the halftime holidays and all that. They have been providing us with vouchers each week for 15 pounds. They send them as a high street voucher, electronic high street voucher, which is emailed over to us. And the school has been wonderfully placed for us that don't have access to the internet. The school will print out the voucher for you so you could take it to the shop. We also had a 150 pound one off payment from our Council, which we had to apply for. Well, I only found out about that through my parents group. What's that group? It was a charity that was trying to put the words out that some accounts had this grant fund and if you met the certain criteria, being under low income, you could apply for 150 pound one off grant, which basically just went on all my gas as of a prepayment gas meter. So I ended up with a couple of months worth of gas in the winter, which really helped. So, yeah, we'd be one of the lucky ones. And then Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, last holiday, he was issuing all London school children with vouchers for lunches, for holidays.
What do the Christmas holidays mean for me?
Not a lot. I am glad I don't celebrate Christmas as so many people (mostly Mums) seem to be stressed and overwhelmed for weeks by the expectations placed on them to provide more than they can afford, spend time with people they usually choose to avoid, consume excessively and produce massive amounts of rubbish as a result, to then be in debt in the New Year.
Solstice celebration is very low key and comfortable by comparison. We meet with our chosen loved ones, invite anyone who may be lonely or struggling to share the food and drink we have made. The kids were happy to receive chocolate and books as their present. Around a fire (wrapped in blankets) we contemplate what we are grateful for, what we invite in, what to let go and where we send our blessings. These are written down and burned with dried herbs. We talk, laugh, dance and sing until the fire burns down. Winter holiday done. X
A family member told me that his bedroom temperature recorded only 4 degrees centigrade when he woke up the other day. Outside was -9C. I am relieved he woke up at all.