Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Falling Short

Since it's initial trip out my scooter has enjoyed a more varied scenery than the back store room of the charity shop it had been stuck in for so long. Which is all kinds of great. For the people who've been out enjoying my scooter. Several people in fact. Just not me. The whole access issue is proving a nightmare. 

GG came up with an easier, and importantly cheaper way of getting access to the front garden than the proper, have to stick to the legal way of doing things builder did, but even so I'm looking at £500 or so to have the work done. It's alot of money, particularly to spend on a flat that is privately rented, so I'm wondering if moving would be cheaper and more sensible. 

I don't really want to move, it's expensive in both sterling and spoons, but so is trying to figure out all the access stuff. I really, really don't want to move away from my beloved beach which is currently in staggering distance so I'm watching the building works a few houses away with interest. There will be a ground floor flat available to rent in a month or so which wouldn't need any significant work done to make it accessible. The big downside is that it's more expensive than the flat I'm currently renting, crucially above the limit Local Housing Allowance will pay so I'd have to make up a shortfall. It wouldn't be a massive shortfall, about £50 a month, the kind of expense that I would use my DLA for, but my DLA is up for renewal later this year and I'm concerned I may be refused and have to go through a hideous appeals process. If that were to happen I'd also have to deal with the financial consequences of being refused DLA which would also mean the loss of some parts of my Income Support.

My current flat is lovely, but it isn't ideal. In addition to the access problems the biggest issues are that there is no bath and that my bedroom and bathroom are damp. The wall in my bedroom is wet to the touch and despite work my landlord has done since I've moved in it's getting worse. If it were purely down to practicalities I'd move, but it's not, it's about as yet unknown impacts of changes to benefits, the only part of which is certain is that there will be changes. 

Being able to have my scooter at home, and access to a bath are both things which will improve my quality of life, the kind of things that need to happen if I'm ever to stand a chance of working to support myself rather than relying on out of work benefits. One of the biggest justifications for the cuts to Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance have been that the current system allows for private landlords to profiteer and price fix. As yet benefit claimants don't know what those cuts will mean in real terms, but the private landlords already have a good idea. It was the landlord of the flats being worked on who told me what the cut will be, and that he'd been told that information rather than working it out for himself. I watched him calculate the amount of LHA I'd receive whilst he was telling me how much the rent for the flat would be.  

There is supposed to be additional Housing Benefit available for those disabled people who need an extra room for their carer to stay in, but I'm not sure if these discretionary payments would cover something as basic as access. It would also be a moot point if I am turned down for DLA as that would mean my being reclassed by the benefits system as not a severely disabled person so therefore not qualifying for any additional Housing Benefit anyway.  

The only thing I'm fairly sure of is that David Cameron cannot have intended these kind of consequences for disabled people, could he?


allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

Ask the local council (or search their website) about Discretionary Housing Payments.

These are discretionary payments which can be paid to top up shortfalls in HB on top of the normal HB payments. They are notoriously underclaimed.

Might solve your £50/month shortfall. Not sure what future ConDem plans are for this payment either (and some councils seem to be convinced they can only be paid for a limited period which is just plain wrong) so you may want to be cautious about basing any future plans on it.

Monkeygirl said...

Sorry BG that you have to have all these things on top of being disabled, just so unfair that you can't have accommodation that is accessible.

Could you get a disabled person's grant to make you current place accessible:

or am I just being naive/stupid??

Thinking of you, just things were easier x