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.