Meg T on 08 October 2020
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Q. Are you on Universal Credit?
Q. What help do, or don't you get, from the benefit system?
Hello there. I am currently in receipt of legacy benefits, namely employment support allowance (support group) and personal independence payment (standard mobility and standard care). I have received these benefits since approximately 2013 onwards because I am disabled & have chronic health issues and am unable to work. That said I have applied to be allowed to do permitted work to the DWP because under current rules I am allowed to work up to 16 hours per week as long as I don't earn more than the current income limit which is £140 per week. I am registered as a self employed freelance consultant and experts by experience. But the DWP are very slow in giving permission so I have ploughed on regardless. I also receive child benefit 4 weekly, child tax credit weekly and Carers Allowance for caring for my son who is currently in receipt of DLA as he has suffered from low mood and anxiety since year five and has been under the care of CAMHS since year six. He is now 15 years old & still under their care. This means that my employment support allowance which I receive two weekly is reduced as due to the benefit cap by £30 per week. Furthermore because I am in the process of paying off a in interest-free budgeting loan my ESA has reduced further following a few months payment holiday because of the covert 19 crisis as it has started to be repaid again. I personally would have preferred to continue paying throughout. Because I am on legacy benefits I have not been privy to the £20 per week extra uprating of benefits that universal credit claimants currently receive. In my area because I am of working age even though I cannot work due to illness and disability, I am eligible to pay council tax. I do receive a council tax reduction though, but my annual bill is £500 per year. The council were very helpful and gave me £150 Covid-19 relief off my bill which was very welcome. However, my 22-year-old middle son has now moved out of the property a few weeks ago. I am now deemed liable by the council to pay bedroom tax because I have an "spare room". But the council failed to take into account that my eldest 24-year-old son is in the RAF and is posted to a base in Scotland and lives in barracks. My home is his home and it is where he returns when he is on leave. He does not yet have a home of his own apart from his room in the barracks. I have have asked the council to look at the decision again because it's not right that our military staff are put into a position by their job where they have to live on base because they cannot commute but yet are deemed as having a roof over their head when it is only temporary. Furthermore to me this is a form of hidden homelessness that is not fully appreciated by the powers that be. If I am successful in the reconsideration then I won't have to pay bedroom tax. If I am unsuccessful it means my housing benefit which I am currently receiving in full will be reduced by £11.25 per week, thus is swallowing up the council tax rebate that I received for the covert 19 pandemic and I will be no better off once again. And so the low income spiral continues - always treading water - never managing to clamber out of the rising tide of poverty.
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