I desperately want a girlfriend - but falling in love could cost me my benefits — Scope | Disability forum
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I desperately want a girlfriend - but falling in love could cost me my benefits

Richard_Scope
Richard_Scope Posts: 3,614 Scope online community team
Why should I have to ask somebody I love to be financially responsible for me Picture Joe Hardy
Why should I have to ask somebody I love to be financially responsible for me? (Picture: Joe Hardy)© Provided by Metro

I have never had a romantic partner.

In my entire 28-year lifespan, the idea of forming a romantic relationship has failed to progress beyond the stage of me merely imagining what that might look or feel like.

It’s not through lack of want or desire, but rather a cruel quirk of the benefit system that I, and many other disabled people, rely on in order to live.



I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a group of movement disorders, which has severely impacted all of my limbs, rendering me completely unable to stand. Consequently, I have been a wheelchair user ever since I grew out of my pushchair.

While I am not totally defined by my disability, it is impossible for me to argue that it won’t have an impact on every aspect of my life, for my whole life.

I have, for example, never been able to enter paid employment. There are a multitude of reasons why working just isn’t practical for me, including the fact that it would not be easy for a company to effectively accommodate my personal care needs – particularly in relation to the frequent necessity for me to answer the call of nature. 

Another aspect of my life that has been affected is the relationship side. I first gave serious thought to the prospect of a romantic relationship while I was watching Love is Blind back in 2020.

I know it sounds cheesy, but there was something about the deep connections formed by some of the participants that I wanted for myself. 

I felt helpless knowing that Id be left a choice between loneliness and complete financial dependence on another person Picture Joe Hardy
I felt helpless knowing that I’d be left a choice between loneliness and complete financial dependence on another person (Picture: Joe Hardy)© Provided by Metro

Then, I remembered something I’d vaguely registered when I originally applied for Employment and Support Allowance in 2015. That my allowance would be reduced, or even stopped, if I lived with a partner because her income would be taken into account when calculating my continued eligibility.

‘That can’t be right,’ I told myself. But after further research, it turned out, alas, it is!

And not only that – if a potential partner had savings, that could also impact my allowance. If she, or we, had £6,000, my allowance might be reduced. If these savings collectively reached over £16,000, I would no longer be eligible for any benefits – despite not having an income of my own.

I felt helpless knowing that I’d be left facing a choice between loneliness and complete financial dependence on another person.

I didn’t think it right to put a potential partner in the position of having to financially support me.

Why should a partner’s income matter? Why, in 2023, should I have to ask somebody to become completely financially responsible for me just because I love them, but can’t work? How is that fair for either of us?

I feel so emotionally broken at the thought of having to stay single purely out of monetary considerations Picture Joe Hardy
I feel so emotionally broken at the thought of having to stay single purely out of monetary considerations (Picture: Joe Hardy)© Provided by Metro

Not being able to contribute to a relationship financially would make me very uncomfortable indeed. Even if a potential partner was perfectly willing to pay for everything that we’d need, I don’t think that’s a sustainable foundation on which to build a loving and, most importantly, equal relationship. 

The financial disparity between us may lead to increased resentment over time, too, and I don’t think a relationship would be able to survive under such conditions.

When I explained the situation to my friends on Twitter, none of them could believe it. The comments and messages came through thick and fast. ‘Are you sure??’, ‘That can’t be right!’, ‘That is so cruel!’  

They urged me to fight for change and so the #RightToLove campaign was born, which has so far resulted in parliamentary petitions – first in 2021 and again currently. 

My first #RightToLove petition in 2021 got over 26,000 signatures.

After it reached the 10,000 milestone, the Government responded, but due to a lack of significant change from their end, I felt like my concerns were dismissed. So I created another one – partly for a more thorough response next time, but also to increase awareness in the general population of the emotional pain caused by this policy.

This time, I’m expecting a lot more signatures – thanks to my hefty Twitter following – but I still don’t expect that the Government will commit to addressing the problem.

I just hope that I can raise enough awareness so that people realise how utterly wrong the policy is.

Did you know about this quirk in the benefits system? Have your say in the comments below comment Now

I feel so emotionally broken at the thought of having to stay single purely out of monetary considerations. Of course, living apart might be a viable solution initially, but it wouldn’t be a stable foundation for a long lasting relationship.

Despite trying to process the apparent reality of being alone forever, I have come to realise that I just can’t do it.

I want, and need, to explore the possibility of romantic attachment, and while that may not immediately lead to us living together, the fact that doing so at any point in the future could harm us both financially, means I’m daunted by the idea.

The solution is simple.

Base entitlement to means-tested benefits solely on the incomes of individual claimants, rather than cohabiting couples. This would ensure that both partners can contribute to a household and reduce the potential for resentment.

It would also help abolish the outdated principle that appears to exist within the benefits system: that a disabled person who can’t work effectively ‘burdens’ a partner as soon as they enter a relationship. Such a viewpoint has no place in the 21st century.

The lack of financial independence from a partner afforded to non-working disabled people has to change.

It robs us of our human right to love and be loved without the impossible dilemma of asking our partner to economically sustain us both. It’s unacceptable and I hope that soon, society realises that, too.

You can find Joe’s petition – to allow disabled people to keep all their benefits if they move in with a partner – here.

Scope
Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

'Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

Want to tell us about your experience in the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know. 

Comments

  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 3,614 Scope online community team
    Hi @hotstuff
    What problems are you experiencing with walking? 
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

    'Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

    Want to tell us about your experience in the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know. 
  • Ivy2023
    Ivy2023 Scope Member Posts: 4 Listener
    I agree that it is unfair but it is not a reason to stay single or endure loneliness. You can have a relationship/love without moving in together. You could be neighbours, door on door, with having your own household till the injustice is gone.
  • Wibbles
    Wibbles Community member Posts: 1,543 Pioneering
    edited May 2023
    Why should I have to ask somebody I love to be financially responsible for me Picture Joe Hardy
    Why should I have to ask somebody I love to be financially responsible for me? (Picture: Joe Hardy)© Provided by Metro

    I have never had a romantic partner.

    In my entire 28-year lifespan, the idea of forming a romantic relationship has failed to progress beyond the stage of me merely imagining what that might look or feel like.

    It’s not through lack of want or desire, but rather a cruel quirk of the benefit system that I, and many other disabled people, rely on in order to live.



    I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a group of movement disorders, which has severely impacted all of my limbs, rendering me completely unable to stand. Consequently, I have been a wheelchair user ever since I grew out of my pushchair.

    While I am not totally defined by my disability, it is impossible for me to argue that it won’t have an impact on every aspect of my life, for my whole life.

    I have, for example, never been able to enter paid employment. There are a multitude of reasons why working just isn’t practical for me, including the fact that it would not be easy for a company to effectively accommodate my personal care needs – particularly in relation to the frequent necessity for me to answer the call of nature. 

    Another aspect of my life that has been affected is the relationship side. I first gave serious thought to the prospect of a romantic relationship while I was watching Love is Blind back in 2020.

    I know it sounds cheesy, but there was something about the deep connections formed by some of the participants that I wanted for myself. 

    I felt helpless knowing that Id be left a choice between loneliness and complete financial dependence on another person Picture Joe Hardy
    I felt helpless knowing that I’d be left a choice between loneliness and complete financial dependence on another person (Picture: Joe Hardy)© Provided by Metro

    Then, I remembered something I’d vaguely registered when I originally applied for Employment and Support Allowance in 2015. That my allowance would be reduced, or even stopped, if I lived with a partner because her income would be taken into account when calculating my continued eligibility.

    ‘That can’t be right,’ I told myself. But after further research, it turned out, alas, it is!

    And not only that – if a potential partner had savings, that could also impact my allowance. If she, or we, had £6,000, my allowance might be reduced. If these savings collectively reached over £16,000, I would no longer be eligible for any benefits – despite not having an income of my own.

    I felt helpless knowing that I’d be left facing a choice between loneliness and complete financial dependence on another person.

    I didn’t think it right to put a potential partner in the position of having to financially support me.

    Why should a partner’s income matter? Why, in 2023, should I have to ask somebody to become completely financially responsible for me just because I love them, but can’t work? How is that fair for either of us?

    I feel so emotionally broken at the thought of having to stay single purely out of monetary considerations Picture Joe Hardy
    I feel so emotionally broken at the thought of having to stay single purely out of monetary considerations (Picture: Joe Hardy)© Provided by Metro

    Not being able to contribute to a relationship financially would make me very uncomfortable indeed. Even if a potential partner was perfectly willing to pay for everything that we’d need, I don’t think that’s a sustainable foundation on which to build a loving and, most importantly, equal relationship. 

    The financial disparity between us may lead to increased resentment over time, too, and I don’t think a relationship would be able to survive under such conditions.

    When I explained the situation to my friends on Twitter, none of them could believe it. The comments and messages came through thick and fast. ‘Are you sure??’, ‘That can’t be right!’, ‘That is so cruel!’  

    They urged me to fight for change and so the #RightToLove campaign was born, which has so far resulted in parliamentary petitions – first in 2021 and again currently. 

    My first #RightToLove petition in 2021 got over 26,000 signatures.

    After it reached the 10,000 milestone, the Government responded, but due to a lack of significant change from their end, I felt like my concerns were dismissed. So I created another one – partly for a more thorough response next time, but also to increase awareness in the general population of the emotional pain caused by this policy.

    This time, I’m expecting a lot more signatures – thanks to my hefty Twitter following – but I still don’t expect that the Government will commit to addressing the problem.

    I just hope that I can raise enough awareness so that people realise how utterly wrong the policy is.

    Did you know about this quirk in the benefits system? Have your say in the comments below comment Now

    I feel so emotionally broken at the thought of having to stay single purely out of monetary considerations. Of course, living apart might be a viable solution initially, but it wouldn’t be a stable foundation for a long lasting relationship.

    Despite trying to process the apparent reality of being alone forever, I have come to realise that I just can’t do it.

    I want, and need, to explore the possibility of romantic attachment, and while that may not immediately lead to us living together, the fact that doing so at any point in the future could harm us both financially, means I’m daunted by the idea.

    The solution is simple.

    Base entitlement to means-tested benefits solely on the incomes of individual claimants, rather than cohabiting couples. This would ensure that both partners can contribute to a household and reduce the potential for resentment.

    It would also help abolish the outdated principle that appears to exist within the benefits system: that a disabled person who can’t work effectively ‘burdens’ a partner as soon as they enter a relationship. Such a viewpoint has no place in the 21st century.

    The lack of financial independence from a partner afforded to non-working disabled people has to change.

    It robs us of our human right to love and be loved without the impossible dilemma of asking our partner to economically sustain us both. It’s unacceptable and I hope that soon, society realises that, too.

    You can find Joe’s petition – to allow disabled people to keep all their benefits if they move in with a partner – here.

    If you're looking for a partner who may be in a similar position to yourself 
    Try https://outsiders.org.uk/
    Tuppy Owens has run the club for 30 years +
  • MPowell_1991
    MPowell_1991 Community member Posts: 83 Courageous
    Firstly, i can relate to frustrations felt by many disabled people when it comes to dating the amount of times i was rejected when somebody said things like "i don't want to be your carer" hurts.

    I have had some negative experiences, but i can say that with enough perseverance things can work out for the better. You only get one chance in life. Myself and my wife (yes you read that right, wife) have now been married for 2 years (together for five) we have a four month old daughter, she works full time and we still jointly claim for universal credit, i too claim DLA.

    It's not all doom and gloom.

  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 3,614 Scope online community team
    I agree, @MPowell_1991. It can be a challenging journey, especially with the added financial implications that sometimes have to be considered. But it is not impossible!

    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

    'Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

    Want to tell us about your experience in the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know. 
  • MPowell_1991
    MPowell_1991 Community member Posts: 83 Courageous
    I agree, @MPowell_1991. It can be a challenging journey, especially with the added financial implications that sometimes have to be considered. But it is not impossible!

    @r@Richard_Scope i would be happy to discuss my experiences with you if that would be of interest?
  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 3,614 Scope online community team
    @MPowell_1991I will drop you an email.
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

    'Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

    Want to tell us about your experience in the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know. 
  • riversong234
    riversong234 Community member Posts: 12 Listener
    This petition is great, thank you! I am in a relationship of almost two years, and became very unwell during the relationship (already had a disability before we were together as well). I realised for us to have a viable future I will always have to work part time as I won't be eligible for benefits, and that we will get a mortgage together. I've never done anything like that before, i'm very independent and I don't like the idea of having to get into debt with her to afford a house. If we broke up it would be back to living with my parents as I don't make enough money. It's a lot of pressure! 
  • Greg68
    Greg68 Community member Posts: 3 Listener
    If you have a partner that is working, you may lose some of your existing benefits but would they not be replaced, at least in part,  by the old Working Tax Credit now part of Universal credit?  Not ideal I know.

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