As anyone who follows my blog or twitter already knows...I have the most amazing neighbours ever! There's a pile of crockery sitting on top of my microwave as I type, the different patterns showing just how many people have pitched in to help while I've been so poorly this winter. One lady had already declared her intention to run a 10k later this year and help fundraise towards my wheelchair, and now others are organising a fundraising gig to be held in a local bar on March 17th. Knowing me well, the person setting up the gig even made sure to tell me I didn't have to go if I didn't feel well enough! We're the kind of community that Cameron has tried so hard to define with his 'big society' and failed to do so. Which is perhaps partly because it's micro communities not big societies which work in this way. But I digress into rambling. Again.
So, we've got the venue, the talent, the organisation, and the gig is good to go. Where we've stalled is the financial practicalities. It's not possible to use sites like justgiving without being linked to a registered charity to receive the money. It's also not possible for me to have the money put directly into my bank account because I'm in receipt of means tested benefits. So, I tried to get in touch with the DWP to see how to do this officially as it is technically possible to receive money for a specific purpose such as this without it being considered income. Technically, as I can't find anyone who actually knows how to do this.
First I tried the DWP Press Office on twitter. They didn't reply. So then I tried the local Jobcentre department who oversee income support. They didn't have a clue, which is understandable as it's far from a routine enquiry. After that I thought to try my Disability Employment Advisor. She didn't know either, but was able to tell me that the Income Support department had tried to contact me to say they didn't know...and made a note on my file which said 'treat as income'. I'm not thinking about the possibility of that note triggering a benefits investigation, particularly as I've already just been through a benefits investigation*. After a more in depth conversation with the DEA we decided the best thing to do would be for me to write to the DWP explaining the fundraising and copy my DEA into the letter because then if there were any problems later on I would know where a record of the letter had been filed.
So theoretically, all I have to do now is set up a paypal account to receive the funds. Except...this is the DWP, I'm on means tested benefits and I'm not confident with that uncertainty. I don't want to accidentally do something wrong then find out later when it's too late that it's classed as benefit fraud. I just want my wheelchair and to be able to enjoy how amazing it is that my community want to help support me in this way.
One suggestion was that the wheelchair appeal itself could be set up as a registered charity. I'm not sure whether such an appeal would satisfy the charitable requirements, but I do know how much work is involved in setting up a charity, and that I don't have the time or energy to do that. Another suggestion has been to find an established charity who are willing to have all the fundraising money donated directly to them and then pay for the wheelchair themselves. I'm not sure whether that would satisfy the charities accountants terribly well either.
So, I'm a bit stuck. I know the wheelchair will cost somewhere in the region of £6000. I have all this incredible support to help me raise that money....and so far nowhere I can send that money to be donated without possibly accidentally committing benefit fraud. This is where hopefully the collective knowledge of t'interwebs comes in... I'm hoping one of my readers might know exactly which form I have to fill in to let the DWP know that this money is for disabled specific stuff and not income, or what the DWP call this so the local jobcentre staff know what to look up on their computers. Or perhaps there's another way that this kind of fundraising can be done...
If anyone wants to come to the gig, I'll make sure details go up soon as available, but for now a preview to whet your appetite.
*which showed, unsurprisingly, that I'm claiming all my benefits genuinely, legitemately and not doing anything wrong.