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The “cost of staying alive” crisis

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Cher_Alumni
Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,734 Disability Gamechanger

Around 600,000 have just £10 or less per week after taxes and housing for food, heating, and everything else.

Dr Frances Ryan used a case study of one disabled couple living in Britain to illustrate the felt impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the everyday. Can you relate? 

Mike and Sandra* are a middle-aged couple from Buckinghamshire. Mike is recovering from agoraphobia, and cares for Sandra who has bipolar disorder alongside other physical impairments. Mike additionally cares for Sandra’s nan and disabled son, receiving £69 per week Carer’s Allowance for doing so.  

Reliant on benefits to get through, the couple shared details of the daily deprivations and coping strategies they have turned to, to survive, namely: 

  • Mike having one meal a day, ““whatever is yellow-stickered at Morrisons”. 

  • Sandra limiting mobility scooter use or putting the air conditioning on to help with her asthma, due to electricity costs. 

  • Showering less to save money. 

  • Using food banks and a local food pantry. 

Sadly, their story is not unique. Frances presents a range of statistics to show how the couple’s situation is mirrored in the realities of many other British disabled people. Office for National Statistics reports that over half of disabled people struggle to afford energy bills, and more than a third find it hard to pay rent or a mortgage. A survey of working-age disabled people suggests that around 600,000 have just £10 or less per week after taxes and housing for food, heating, and everything else. 

Mike and Sandra’s story can be read in full via the Guardian webpage

Over to you: 

  • Can you relate to Mike and Sandra’s situation? 

  • In what ways have you altered your lifestyle due to the cost-of-living crisis? 

  • Does describing it as the ‘cost-of-staying alive crisis resonate with you? 

Please give us your thoughts in the comments below.  

*Real names not given to protect from disability hate crime 

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Comments

  • Magooner00
    Magooner00 Community member Posts: 2 Listener
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    I can relate to these issues. Despite being diabetic, having kidney disease, arthritis, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, visual impairment, depression & anxiety, I spent the majority of the winter in bed for fear of putting the heating on, I live on crisps & biscuits or processed meals to prevent using the oven. As a result of the winter in bed I am in excruciating pain when walking now, as my joints & core strength are not up to it. I’ve recently collapsed in the street & was fortunate to be cared for by 2 kind gentlemen until family arrived to take me to hospital(ambulance estimated arrival was 3&1/2hrs). I can’t shop very often as movement is restricted & delivery prices are too expensive. Life at the moment is no pleasure & really not worth the aggravation. I live for my grandchildren & the less I see them the more the old dark thoughts loom large.
  • Cher_Alumni
    Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,734 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi @Magooner00 Thank you for registering with us, to share your story. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak honestly about how things are going for you. I'm so sorry the cost of living crisis has affected your quality of life so much, it sounds like things have been very hard. How are you this morning?

    I can see you've tried really hard to cut costs in terms of cutting down your energy usage. To help with this going forwards, I'd recommend signing up to Scope's Disability Energy Support service which is a free service whereby you can speak with a friendly advisor over the telephone about things such as:
    • managing energy and water debt
    • changing your meter
    • energy and water efficiency
    • accessing benefits, grants, and trusts
    • contacting or complaining to your supplier
    • understanding your gas and electricity bills
    • understanding how to use your heating systems
    Visit this link to register if you feel comfortable :) 

    Scope also have some advice pages around Free food and food banks, while Age UK do provide some services around delivering shopping, if you want to see what's available in your area.

    I'm going to email you shortly to see what us at Scope can do to make your situation a little easier, so please keep an eye out for that email.

    Take care and please do let us know if there's anything else you are struggling with.
    Online Community Co-ordinator

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

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.
  • Fin1
    Fin1 Community member Posts: 33 Connected
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    Hello, when my benefits were taken away, I eventually got them back, I had to go to food banks as I could no afford anything, I had bill companies contacting me etc. it was hard and tough. There should be a law or some organisation that has a bigger power than the DWP and makes instant changes when you self refer or referred by others. The government and the DWP seem a law in their own. Making people live in hardship while they pop the champagne is disgraceful.
  • Susan68jkl
    Susan68jkl Community member Posts: 3 Listener
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    I'm struggling apart from my brother Steven having given my other brother a loan of £250 a week for food shopping every week apart from the £300 I give him once a month as well as his wages monthly but he only gets £200 from his bank every Saturday because my brother Stewart got scammed on Instagram for £10.000 and I'm worried about having to top the gas and electric, appliance plans, my life insurance and the streaming services like our Virgin and Council Tax bill myself.
  • 2oldcodgers
    2oldcodgers Posts: 743 Connected
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    Fin1 said:
    Hello, when my benefits were taken away, I eventually got them back, I had to go to food banks as I could no afford anything, I had bill companies contacting me etc. it was hard and tough. There should be a law or some organisation that has a bigger power than the DWP and makes instant changes when you self refer or referred by others. The government and the DWP seem a law in their own. Making people live in hardship while they pop the champagne is disgraceful.
    The problem is in the way the DWP notify the claimant. It is right and proper that any/all welfare payments should cease immediately if there is any suggestion that there is something amiss with the claim. This action is done for two reasons. 1 to protect the public purse in monies being paid that may well prove to be benefit fraud and 2 to stop the claimant running into debt if the monies have to be paid back.

  • Fin1
    Fin1 Community member Posts: 33 Connected
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    Your right @purrrrrr and@2dcodgers. There has to be a drastic change for the system to be fair.

    I’m sorry to here that @Susan68jkl, the scamming and cybercrime is a big problem, did you get any help from the authorities. I had my whole network hacked and had to pay out because the hackers were using my computer in India and America doing dodgy stuff, they said I was responsible. I reported it but nothing was done, a doctor even denied I was ever hacked because of being mentally ill, where he thought I was making it up.
  • 2oldcodgers
    2oldcodgers Posts: 743 Connected
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    Purrrrrrr said:


     No, it's not right and proper to stop someone's money because of a malicious call or any other reason,  only stop people's money when they have 100% proof of intent to defraud but this should be fair right across the board.   Someone in a huge debt doing a bit of cash in hand to feed their family should not be treated as a criminal when the real criminals are literally getting away with murder!     
     
    So you are suggesting that the DWP continue to pay out money every week until such time nine months or even longer down the line that benefit fraud was 100% proved? Then the claimant would cry poverty when told to repay what they had stolen from the State?
    Surely it is more important to reduce that happening by stopping the benefit payments until the fraud can be proven one way or the other. If it is found that fraud was not involved the claimant would get a lump sum being the money they were entitled to but never received it.
    Anybody taking benefit money from the public purse illegally (cash in hand job for example) should be pursued for every penny they have stolen. Fraud is fraud no matter how small an amount or the reason given for committing it is given.
  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 8,405 Disability Gamechanger
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    @Purrrrrrr
    I totally agree with you 100% benefits should not be stopped until DWP have concrete evidence people are committing fraud. 
    If they are not committing fraud and have their money stopped how on earth do the survive. 
  • 2oldcodgers
    2oldcodgers Posts: 743 Connected
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    Lou67 said:

    @Purrrrrrr
    I totally agree with you 100% benefits should not be stopped until DWP have concrete evidence people are committing fraud. 
    If they are not committing fraud and have their money stopped how on earth do the survive. 
    And if they are suspected of committing benefit fraud you agree that they be allowed to carry on being paid? 
  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 8,405 Disability Gamechanger
    edited May 2023
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    @2oldcodgers
    Thats the word here suspected of committing fraud, not been found to have committed fraud. 
    Big difference.

    Sorry to answer your question yes I think they should be paid till there’s evidence they are committing fraud. 
  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 8,405 Disability Gamechanger
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    @Purrrrrrr
    My thoughts exactly, it would be awful for this to happen especially if it was untrue and just someone been nasty. 
  • Adeline
    Adeline Community member Posts: 141 Pioneering
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    Fin1 said:
    Hello, when my benefits were taken away, I eventually got them back, I had to go to food banks as I could no afford anything, I had bill companies contacting me etc. it was hard and tough. There should be a law or some organisation that has a bigger power than the DWP and makes instant changes when you self refer or referred by others. The government and the DWP seem a law in their own. Making people live in hardship while they pop the champagne is disgraceful.
    The problem is in the way the DWP notify the claimant. It is right and proper that any/all welfare payments should cease immediately if there is any suggestion that there is something amiss with the claim. This action is done for two reasons. 1 to protect the public purse in monies being paid that may well prove to be benefit fraud and 2 to stop the claimant running into debt if the monies have to be paid back.

    What about the debt that people have to run themselves into just to survive? 
  • Adeline
    Adeline Community member Posts: 141 Pioneering
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  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 8,405 Disability Gamechanger
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    @Adeline
    Hello I hope your well.
    Yes it makes total sense, why would anyone want people to have their benefits stopped because there might be a fraud happening.
    There needs to be concrete evidence that they are claiming when they shouldn’t. Then it should be dealt with. 

    Take care 
  • 2oldcodgers
    2oldcodgers Posts: 743 Connected
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    Lou67 said:

    @Adeline
    Hello I hope your well.
    Yes it makes total sense, why would anyone want people to have their benefits stopped because there might be a fraud happening.
    There needs to be concrete evidence that they are claiming when they shouldn’t. Then it should be dealt with. 

    Take care 
    Not to me it doesn't.
    If it takes say 9 months to decide if someone was actually committing benefit fraud and in that time they still continued to be paid the benefit that they were being accused of how would you suggest that they would manage to live with that benefit stopped and a demand to repay not only the 9 months of benefit they have had but maybe a couple of years as well?
    Either way if they are guilty it is going to put them up the creek without a paddle with no income to live off and a debt that they have no chance of repaying.
    Investigations of fraud don't just get solved within days it can take many months.
    Much better to bite the bullet now and struggle during the time it takes to be found innocent in the knowledge that the 'lost' money would be repaid to them. If they were found guilty and it went to court you can add another year to the 9 months above. How on earth are they going to be able to repay that huge debt? 
  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 8,405 Disability Gamechanger
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    @2oldcodgers
    Why should they have their money stopped on the whim they MAY have committed fraud.

    How would you like your benefits pensions all income, stopped because someone reported you had committed fraud, and it was totally false, you had nothing to live on until it was looked into. I don’t think you’d like it. I know I certainly wouldn’t. 
  • 2oldcodgers
    2oldcodgers Posts: 743 Connected
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    Lou67 said:

    @Purrrrrrr
    My thoughts exactly, it would be awful for this to happen especially if it was untrue and just someone been nasty. 
    But conversely what should happen if they are knowingly committing benefit fraud and are still being paid more money by the DWP until such time that they are found to be guilty either by a jury or magistrate.

    I have been in that position myself after being reported for theft. The DWP failed to gather any evidence from me and I refused to attend any interviews. I knew it was not true so why should I have to prove my innocence. They decided to bring the police in and I had the 6am knock on the door with a search warrant in hand.
    It took many months to resolve that I was completely innocent. I had to find other sources of income until the DWP refunded me what they had stopped.  Of course it was hard but I knew that that was the system so I had to work around it.
  • Community_Scope
    Community_Scope Posts: 1,097 Pioneering
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    Note from online community team:

    Where possible we like all discussions to continue, but we’re choosing to pause this discussion for now so things can cool down and we can review it. For more information, please read our online community house rules.

    We will review it and if we are satisfied the discussion can continue, we will hope to un-pause it by the end of next week.

  • Community_Scope
    Community_Scope Posts: 1,097 Pioneering
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    Note from online community team:
    Hello everyone,We just want to let you know, we've edited many members comments from this thread as they went against online community house rules.Following review, we have now unpaused this discussion.We understand that a topic like this creates very passionate debates, but we do not want it spilling into arguments and personal remarks.  The online community should remain civil, supportive, and safe.With that, we want to remind members to use reputable sources when sharing content. We will continue to closely monitor this discussion, but if it escalates further, we may choose to pause, close, or even hide the discussion.For more information, please read our online community house rules.
  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 8,405 Disability Gamechanger
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    @Cher_Scope
    Thanks for re opening this thread. Just a pity most of @Purrrrrrr comments have been removed for speaking the truth. 
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