Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Feel The Fear

Life as a disabled person on benefits is always a bit of a knife edge, somewhere in the back of your mind is always the possibility that your world will be ripped from underneath you. No-one can live with stress levels like that though, so most of the time it just sits there, underneath day to day life like an impossible to trace bad smell beneath the floorboards. Horrible, but impossible to change so you somehow get used to living with it.

Until something changes and there is no choice but to face it. For me that change came today in the form of finding out the house I live in is to be sold.

I can't begin to describe how frightened I feel. I have no assets, no savings, no income apart from benefits. I can't buy because property is so expensive and even if I could self certify a mortgage on housing benefit in these financially strained times I couldn't afford the £120 + grand I'd need.

I have to move. In itself that's no bad thing as the stairs are a major problem in this property. The issue is finding somewhere I can move to. A phone call to the housing department of the local authority revealed I'd somehow fallen off the waiting list for social housing two years ago. Fortunately the kind advisor I spoke to has managed to reinstate my place so I have 3 years on the list. Which is apparently good for a single person without children.

That's about the only good part. The vast majority of local authority/housing association ground floor properties are set aside for older people. The lowest age they will accept applications from is usually 55 and even if it were appropriate for me to live in sheltered accomodation for the elderly, it is unlikely I'd be allowed to apply. This means that every disabled adult in need of ground floor social housing is competing for the same minute number of properties.

I could rent in the private sector. If I can find a property which will allow a DSS tenant with a pet. And a smoking habit. Most are advertised as no pets/smokers/DSS. I do have the advantage of being a
nicely spoken middle class princess, but even if a landlord will put aside all those requirements the amount of housing benefit I receive will be £100-250 below the average market rent in the town I currently live in. Local Housing Allowance will only make that situation worse as it draws from across a much larger area to average out the rents. Basically to force those on benefits to live in lousy areas. I've no idea at this time whether I will be affected by that as well.

I should be able to find a property in a different town for a rent housing benefit will cover, but that will mean losing the support system I've built up over the past few years which in the absence of a formal care package provided by social services is vital. It may also mean having to live in an area which is unsafe.

Vulnerability is a feeling you just have to get used to as a disabled person and one which I ignore for the most part, but all this just highlights to me how incredibly vulnerable I really am. It's not a feeling I like and short of selling my body I don't know what I'm going to do.


alhi said...

Oh no. I do feel for you, particularly if you end up having to move towns and leave behind the whole support network. It was one of the things that kept me where I am right now when I did have the option of taking a job either here or in Oxford. The thought of having to move (never mind look for somewhere to live etc) and leave behind everyone who had supported me in the various ways both coming up to the hip replacement and after it, was too much at the time when the decision had to be made, so I stayed put.

Perhaps whoever buys the property will still want to rent it out. In addition, you should also check if you have any rights as a sitting tenant.

Casdok said...

So sorry to hear this. And understand how frightening this must be.
I have a spare room! :)

Mr. Nighttime said...

Oh Bendy, I don't know what to say. I hope you have good friends that you can rely on for some type of temporary help, as I know your family situation is not the best, and I doubt you want, or can't turn to them for help.

I am going to give my friend in Scotland a buzz. He is very well connected in the health care sector in the UK. I don't know how much familiarity he has with people in your situation, but I am hoping he might know someone that can help. I'll keep you posted if I find out anything.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Alhi:Thank you. I've not even started to think about how daunting a physical task it's going to be yet! At the moment it's the insecurity of the whole thing which feels so scary.
I wouldn't be surprised if the property is re rented, but I won't be able to afford it if it is.
As for rights, I will look into that, the right to stay on at the same rent would be good! Thanks again x

Casdok: Thank you, and thank you I may just take you up on that!

MrN: That is so incredibly kind of you, brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much x

frogpondsrock said...

I am really sorry that there isn't anything I can do to help you...Cyber hugs from Tasmania aren't much help at all but here is one anyway (((hugs))) Kim xx

Anonymous said...

No security of tenure?

Ms Ordinarée said...

I will speak to you tomorrow/later. Just suffice to say that I am there for you. Sorry that I haven;t been in touch for a day or two - knackered, totally...again.

Hang in there.
Love n hugs

Ms O

Jim said...

Im sorry to hear that Bendy, it must have come as a terrible shock to you.

Can I suggest that you contact your local Councillor and explain everything about your situation. They can often be very helpful in intervening.

Another thing you could do is find out who the Director of Housing (or equivalent) is in your local authority and do the same to him or her?

I'm afraid I can't give you any specific advice as housing legislation is different up here in Scotland, but do press your case strongly and I'm certain you will get the help you need.


Trixie said...

Oh Bendy, yeah, it's scary stuff. I got most annoyed, when when of the punters in my pub, walked into the housing council here, saying he was being kicked out of his house, (in his 60's but still works and he's fighting fit) and they offered him a bungalow that had just come up in our town that afternoon. He wasn't even on the waiting list! Just right time, right place.

I'm hoping the same will happen to you, and you'll find the perfect place, better than where you live now, in your own town.

Fingers crossed for you sweetie!

Mary said...


I know what you mean, even if an acceptable solution is found, it's a very scary situation trying to deal with upheaval when you're struggling to deal with the most basic bare-essentials of existence.

I can't really offer much advice beyond, get some sort of advocate so that this crap is all written down in officialdom. But you knew that.

Thinking of you.

Dave said...

Sorry to hear this BG. It's a sad fact these days that the people who shout loudest get heard.
Make a fuss. Call in favours. Get your friends on board.
talk to the press or get a friend to do it. It's a good human interest story and you can spin it so that the paper can get involved in putting right this injustice.
I know you're tough and independent but get help- preferably active and vocal.
Lastly- in the immortal words of Michael Mates "don't let the bastards grind you down!"

Anonymous said...

Oh BG, last thing you need hun. You fight for this one - use your brainy brains and get pro-active, you will have to I think to fight the system.Iam thinking of you always. Achelois

Unixman said...


You know how I feel ...

Talk soon

Mysterious G said...

Once again the genius at local council strikes :/ Should serve you 1st then the old.. but rating isn't going to change that (by me anyway).

Is there any possibility of finding someone you could share with, perhaps as an interim measure, may help with support for you as well as cutting costs.

Try not to worry about how you will move I am sure you can get help either from people you know, or by getting people you know to offer peoples help on their behalf (thats a kind of indirect offer :) but I never like to make things simple :) ).

If I hear of anything I will bare you in mind. Good luck.. and try not to stress too hard, it won't help matters any. Hugz.

LceeL said...

Oh, Bendy, that is such distressing news. But wouldn't it be grand - I mean REALLY GRAND - if I suddenly had my two favourite people in the UK in the same place? You and Casdok. She is the best - just super. I know you'd love her.

No One said...

i dont know

it feels insecure working for a living knowing that your job is hire and fire at random

it feels insecure when your wife has to pass a fucking citizenship test just to stay in the country even though shes more english than most of the folk walking around with british passports

really if we were not funding massive estates of underclass who have kids in order to get state funded accomodation, who all get such a crap education that they are unemployable, if it wasnt for this there would be plenty of money left for the genuinley needy

youre not doing that badly, youre in a western nation, with the cushiest state benefits system in the world

its not perfect but its a start

start an internet business or something, dont just expect the state to provide


this country has its spending priorities so wrong, when it pumps so much money into "ending child poverty" which pragmatically ends up as extra money on the large council estates being spent on beer and fags, and yet cannot afford life saving operations for folk who have paid into the system their entire life, its all gone tits up


Let's Kill Saturday Night said...

Sorry to hear that. Will keep my fingers crossed that things work out for you.

steph said...


Sorry to hear this - I know you could do without this threat hanging over you.

You make me realise how lucky I am to have reasonable security in my own life.

However, I'm a firm believer that when adversity strikes, it has the potential to change things for the better as well as for the worse. This development may result in a positive outcome for you so don't despair yet. You've got 'real' people on your side (((hugs)))

Born Today said...

Good luck Bendy.

Maybe try your local MP?

Mary said...

no one

If an able-bodied person loses their job, they can walk into another one. It may be minimum wage, it may be soul destroying - scrubbing toilets, working a checkout, being part of a factory line, picking fruit - but they CAN do it, and they can do it for enough hours so that they KNOW they will not starve.

Many people on disability-related benefits CAN'T do most of these easy-to-get walk-in jobs. Many of those who can, can't do more than a few hours - certainly not enough to support themselves.

Many disabled people are in a position where they need all their energy and functionality to be able to cover the basics of life such as eating and bathing. After taking care of these real essentials, there might be one or two hours a day left of semi-functional time. That's not enough to make a living.

I also can't imagine the 'internet business' which would thrive and provide a living income with the entrepreneur putting in just one or two hours work a day.

The point of the benefits system is supposed to be to provide a safety net for those who truly cannot provide one for themselves.

The point of this post is that it often fails to do so.

No One said...

mary youre right

but able bodied people should have a safety net too, as a few months of illness can end up with them literally on the streets, and then its impossible to get back, currently this safety net does not exist unless you have kids

and that incentive for the wrong people to have kids is part of the problem

the country is wasting so much more on ID cards, IT for the NHS that will never work, etc etc, that a few of these would have paid for much more support for the genuinely needy

some (not all by any means) disabled folk are perfectly able to support themselves, but choose not to cos the state makes it too easy for them to opt out of work

this country is melting down, and more nutty PC bollocks is not going to help

empowering folk to improve is the best way ahead

for instance bendys previous plea to be able to be funded through more education (i think they wont fund her cos she already has a degree?) is a cause i would support, people need to be given help to improve themselves, and improve their worth to society and on the job market

id rather see more money spent on schools in inner cities and on dodgy council estates, and for education for mature folk who want to contribute more, than just pushing it through the tills of the pubs up and down the land, of course it has to be much better spent too

bendy is a bad example, but there are lots of people on benefits who could easily work if they wanted to

the working population are not a fucking charity working their butts off to pay 40% of their hard earned for the govt to piss against the wall, as it currently does

sorry bendy i love u but lifes not that simple


Devonshire Dumpling said...

Oh bendy I am so sorry. I wrote my own tale of woe only last week and we have some things in common. You'll find a lot of landlords will accept a cat (not a dog) if you were nearer I've got a spare room and between us we might both survive not living on the streets.

There's simply no help for the disabled at all is there?

Rae!xx said...

Bendy I am so sorry to hear this and wish you all the luck in the world.

It might be an idea to contact your local BBC news programme it has been done a few times where I live with successful outcomes.

I will keep everything crossed for you....take care...xxx

having my cake said...

It sounds grim and, like everyone else, I just feel so helpless in terms of what to say or how to assist. Thinking of you x

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Kim: Thank you, hugs are always much appreciated!

Anon: No...I don't think so, but I'm not sure. My landlord is a friend and wouldn't be selling if he had another option, I certainly wouldn't want to ruin the longest friendship I have by obstructing the sale of his property.

MsO: Thank you honey x

Jim: Thank you for your always helpful advice. I'm not sure what the situation is in Scotland, but here the main problem is there are so few social properties available and the cost of rent in the private sector compared to what housing benefit deems appropriate.
I will find out about my local councillor ty.

Trix: Thank you honey. That would have wound me right up too!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Mary: Thank you. As you'll understand the most frightening part of this is the physical stress involved. Just having to view properties will be exhausting, and although I know I've got months yet I have started thinking about packing/selling possessions already as I'm only going to be able to do a small amount each day.

Dave: Thank you, all advice much appreciated. My friends have been fantastic already, and though I no longer count one of the Mate's family as a neighbour...I thought it was 'buggers' engraved on the back of that watch ;)

Achelois: Thank you hon. Hope to catch up soon x

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Unixman: I do indeed and your support has been invaluable already x

Mysterious G: They say you find out who your friends are in situations like this and I've been very lucky and glad of mine already. Thanks for the indirect help offer-I may just cash that one in ;) x

Lou: It would indeed be amazing, and I already love Casdok! x

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Noone: Mary has already explained some of this for me (bless her!) and you know from plenty of my posts that I fully agree the welfare state is being drained by those who simply can't be arsed to work, and that I do feel privileged to receive the help I do.
The issues here are different though, if I could physically work..well trust me, there'd be no stopping me. I worked my way through university with multiple jobs, and it's partly my insistence upon carrying on working for so many years after that which has got me into the mess I'm in now.
Like you say, it is a start, but I'm still in a position where rents are far higher than housing benefit levels and the physical process of packing/moving is one so demanding it'll take me months to get over it. I've already started selling/packing small bits now and the house won't go on the market until just after xmas.
You've hit upon one of the biggest barriers for disabled people in suggesting I start a business, unless you can work full time the system is creating huge barriers (and I know it does for those working full time low paid jobs) but for me I reckon 16 hours a week would be a physical battle, increase my expenses because I'd have to pay for more help and ultimately leave me far worse off than on benefits. Which would be fine if I could still afford to live, but I won't be able to. Now, that's what I call a stupid system!

LKSN: Thank you x

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Steph: Thank you. Though...I'd like to know what I did to be given such a generous share of adversity ;) x

Born Today: Hello and thank you

Mary: Like I said, bless you for that! I think one of the most upsetting things is that your average tax payer is paying a fortune in the expectation that it is to provide a proper safety net for those in need and themselves should they need it.

Noone: I agree with the vast majority of your comment, but it doesn't change the situation I'm in my love.

DD: Thank you and I very much hope your situation improves soon. As noone has pointed out, we should be grateful to have the safety nets we do have, and I am, but it doesn't change the fact that they aren't working in the way people paying for them expect them to

Rae: Thank you honey x

HMC: The emotional support provided by readers and other bloggers actually makes a huge difference so thank you x

Scottish Libertarian said...

It sounds like you're in a nightmare situation right now. As someone with extremely variable health, I can understand your anxiety. I'm thankful that I own my house.

I reckon you should start by carefully reading you current lease, to see what legal rights you have. It might be worthwhile talking to the Citizens Advice Bureau to see if they can help you with your current house, or with council/housing association flats.

It might be worth finding a flatmate too, that may bring some of the nicer houses/flats within your reach. It wouldn't hurt to phone some of the no pets/no DSS landlords, and explain that you are disabled.

Good luck.