Regular readers will know that I am currently in receipt of the old style Incapacity Benefit and low rate care/mobility Disability Living Allowance. I also, as a result of being ‘on’ these benefits, claim housing and council tax benefits. However, these do not cover the full amounts – 88% to be exact.
My home is a one bedroom ground floor flat. I moved in as part of a ‘Move On’ scheme for ex-homeless individuals so I didn’t have to wait in unsuitable temporary studio flat for a decade or more. My housing benefit, or Local Housing Allowance as it’s technically know, is paid directly to the landlord as part of this scheme.
My rent is £150/week, the landlord (private rental) receives £143.83/week in HB. I top up the rest every 4 weeks.
Every person knows of the massive changes to the Welfare system. What some people don’t realise is the impact it has on claimants lives. People fighting for benefits by way of appeal find their health worsening due to the immense amounts of stress places upon them. There have been deaths due to the stress, some even taking their own lives. The Spartaci twitter group lost one of their own last weekend, Karen fought bravely and valiantly against the system that was meant to support her but the stress got all too much for her body. The outpouring of love and support for her husband & family was/is phenomenal.
I personally was expecting dramatic changes to the support I receive. Housing benefit reduction, DLA renewal and migration from Incapacity to Employment & Support Allowance.
Well my slow and hard screwing from the government has begun. I received a letter today from my local council.
Here is an excerpt from said letter:
One of the changes is the maximum amount of LHA payable to single people under 34 will be based on cost of shared accommodation. This change is being introduced from January 2012 and will apply to existing claims based on the anniversary of your actual claim.
My housing benefit will reduce, from £143.83/week, to £70.83/week from 10th December 2012. That’s a £73/week reduction. Understandably I am very upset and did some serious swearing.
There are exceptions to the housing benefit rules for under 35 single claimants. One of them is you’re exempt if you’re 25-34 and have been in a homeless hostel for more than 3 months. Another is if you’re in receipt of medium rate care component of DLA or higher. Obviously there are other exceptions but my brain already hurts from all this stress!
I shall be appealing the decision and will be approaching advice agencies as well as sending an email to my local MP. The letter may have come from the council but it’s the government that the blame should be placed with.
I dread to think how many more people are in the same situation as myself. I have had overwhelming support from various fantastic disabled activists and friends. I will fight this decision for all those who have given, and will give, their moral/practical support.