Why arent benefits enough? — Scope | Disability forum
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Why arent benefits enough?

ydna Member Posts: 9 Connected
This isn’t to sound ungrateful as I know someone will shoot back with comparing us to other countries, but why aren’t benefits enough to support the cost of living? 

How is anyone able to cope on the amount provided? 

£342 a month to live off.

£130 goes to topping up my rent, £66 to pay back an “advance”.

Leaves me with £146 a month before I start. And apparently in September it’s going to down a further £80? What the actual? So I’m supposed to live off £66 a month for all my bills and so on? AND keep my Internet and phone going so I can sign into my ‘online journal’.

Does anyone here actually manage it? £66 a month? 


  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Community Co-Production Group Posts: 2,964 Disability Gamechanger
    Benefits weren’t really designed to live off in the first place and often not meant for long term use. 

    If you have a health condition and/or disability, have you considered declaring those to receive a work capability assessment which can lead to additional benefits paid if awarded? 

    There is also PIP which again can provide additional money if you feel your daily living and mobility are impacted?
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,160 Disability Gamechanger
    It all depends on knowing exactly what you can claim for and your circumstances as mark mentions above their are additional benefits if you have long term medical conditions 

    Have you tried using a benefits calculator to make sure you are getting all you are entitled to 

    Also the advance payback won't be helping you 
  • Ross_Scope
    Ross_Scope Posts: 6,669

    Scope community team

    Hello @ydna and welcome to the community. 

    Have you considered using a benefits calculator to check what you might be entitled to? Just in case you aren't getting everything that you could.
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  • ydna
    ydna Member Posts: 9 Connected
    I think I’ve derailed my own discussion by saying my situation as this is more about benefits in general.

    I get your point about short term rather than long term @MarkN88 but shouldn’t they still cover basic costs of living? £256 is the monthly amount without COVID increase. 
    Does anyone here live on just £256 a month? And if so, can you tell me how or show me your budget? As my numbers don’t add up.

    As for my situation; I had a stroke in November and have been signed off work. I’m working with physiotherapists and hope to improve but right now I can’t work and have a carer come in twice a day. 

    I am claiming everything I’m entitled to, that is just the amount benefits are.

    Work capability scored me lcw so no extra money and PIP I got 6 points daily and I think 4 points mobility. 

    But back to my original question, why is the LHA so low? 
    Why are benefits not enough to cover basic necessities in life.

    I’m still expected to pay £12 towards my council tax. 

    So again I ask, does anyone here think they’d be able to cover their basic costs of living for £256 a month? Honestly? What about if you’re having to top up £130 for your rent out of that and pay £12 council tax?
  • ydna
    ydna Member Posts: 9 Connected
    Nobody else find it  hard?? I thought many would be finding the amount difficult but it doesn’t seem that way from reactions here.
    From tv shows and media I always thought those on benefits had luxury lives but being on this side it’s very different. 
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,172 Disability Gamechanger
    We have lived off benefits for over 20 years, due to ill health, it's not been easy but not impossible either.
    The problem is for people who live off basic benefits i.e no PIP etc, for many benefit rates were frozen for a number of years.
    Be extra nice to new members.
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Posts: 8,219

    Scope community team

    I think many people do struggle with their finances @ydna, and have to budget carefully. It seems as though our users were just trying to give you some practical advice on ensuring you're accessing everything you're entitled to and so on. I can see you've started a separate thread on budgeting, which is a good idea :) 
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  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    edited April 2021
    Why aren’t they enough? 

    1 - not intended to cover the cost of living. They’re intended to be earnings replacement or at a level to incentivise work. They do neither but the groups covered lack the homogeneity and power to effectively lobby or protest. Those who don’t on their behalf are easily dismissed. The original concept of a poverty line or level of income goes all the way back to the 1880s. Even then an arbitrary level was set. It was refined over the years but the closer it got to reflecting the actual costs of living the more likely it would be abolished and so it proved. 

    So, never intended to cover the cost of living and never did. Likely never will. In recent years the benefits and tax system has been largely privatised so the expectation is that people will make at least some provision for themselves. This of course makes no sense as earnings and workers rights have been driven downwards and all the incentives language around work paying and being good for your health is laughable when more people in work are in poverty then those who are not.

    2 - linked into this there is an alleged stigmatisation of claimants. Less true nowadays in some ways but as true in others. What used to be the stigma of claiming means-tested benefits is now spread thinner but more targeted e.g. aimed ignorantly against single parents or immigrants etc. That matters because it enables people to remove the idea of rights from the language of the benefit system. It was called welfare rights for a reason. Entitlements are often clear cut but enforcing them requires a rights based approach. The removal of the idea that these are rights is directly what leads to people not identifying missing entitlements and not challenging decisions. 

    Few aspects of the benefits system are especially complex yet the idea of complexity is widespread. If you don’t believe it’s your right and you do believe it’s incredibly complex then why exactly would you fight for your entitlements?

    Here we have a very good question but within the context of someone having seemingly simply accepted their fate when they got their ESA and PIP decisions. As much as anything then people don’t have enough to live on because securing that requires more time and fight than acquiring work itself and from a group often the least well-equipped to do that. 

    An interesting aside to this is that of course this forum ignores the best practice of a rights based approach referring instead a demonstrably failed model of claimants helping each other. It’s not worked in the time I’ve been here and nor will it moving forward. It simply can’t. Only when claimants are empowered by understanding their rights and the lack of complexity will they be able to assist each other.
  • erin2490
    erin2490 Member Posts: 43 Connected
    @ydna Until recentally and after a year of fighting for benefits I am entitled too. due to mental health issues and universal credit not listening to me.
    I was in the same boat, I couldn't even afford food to last me the whole month, ran out of electric.. literally had nothing (which actually made my mental health even worse)
    So can totally relate, if your on benefits surely a person should be able to afford food to last the month.... And be able to pay basic bills like water and eletric
    I have worked my whole life up until I became poorly mentally and could no longer work, for me to go onto benefits... While trying to get the help I needed to get better. Only to find myself even worse.... If I wanted to get better I had to go to appointments and getting to appointment cost money. Money I didn't have to spend, so I just became more isolated and anxious.

  • fluffycat
    fluffycat Member Posts: 222 Pioneering
    As other said ‘benefits calculator’

    can you get advance reductions reduced ?

    charity grants if need anything for the home (based on area / low income or previous occupation possibilities etc.) 
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,172 Disability Gamechanger
    One thing that possibly would solve this issue would be the introduction of universal benefits (i.e everybody over 18 gets £x).
    It's been trialled in a number of countries, maybe one day here? you never know.
    Be extra nice to new members.
  • pollyanna1052
    pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 2,032 Disability Gamechanger
    Can you access food banks?
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Listener

    £130 goes to topping up my rent
    That's the problem right there. Your landlord is charging extortionate rents that exceed the Local Housing Allowance, so Housing Benefit doesn't cover the full rent.
  • Lou67
    Lou67 Member Posts: 993 Pioneering
    @ynad Just wanted to say you can apply to your council for help from the Discretionary fund to help with the rent you have to pay. 


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