Trying to stay healthy on £19 a week

Below the BreadlineA man involved in one of our grassroots projects recently told us his alarming story of poor health and appalling failures in the benefits system. He’s allowed us to share his experience anonymously here on the blog.

I’ve had a lot of health problems both physical and mental. I walk with a crutch now as my hips and right knee have joined the rest of my musculoskeletal problems, the pain has to be controlled with two types of morphine, a slow release and a quick release because normal pain killers are now ineffective for my conditions. I have an appointment with a clinician to see if I need keyhole surgery on my knee.

I’m also on folate tablets again but my iron is back to normal, still anaemic with the problems that go with that, lethargy and breathlessness. Of course this is caused by the lack of money to buy the food needed to keep healthy.

I was advised to buy good quality food but no one could tell me how I do that with £19.00 per week

The above have made me very depressed and anxious plus I’m having memory problems. I went for a mental health assessment yesterday so that’s more tablets I’ll be on and I have to go back in March to see how well the medication has been working for me. The lack of good nutrition exasperates the effects of the memory problem and I was advised to buy good quality food but no one could tell me how I do that with £19.00 per week for food for me and the dog. Catch twenty two lol.

It doesn’t look like I’ll get a penny until I can’t wash and dress myself

Had lots of appointments with the doctor, nurse, physio, hospital. Had my PIP [Personal Independence Payment] assessment last week but as the government have changed the rules with degenerative disorders it doesn’t look like I’ll get a penny until I can’t wash and dress myself.

Believe it or not the DWP have upheld their decision to move me from the support group to the work-related activity group. I now have to go to the Cornerstone for the next two to three years. I’m in the process of asking for a reconsideration back to the support group and I’m asking why as my conditions have worsened the decision was upheld after I ask for a reconsideration last February and didn’t get a decision till 5 September.

I don’t go out anywhere these days

I don’t go out anywhere these days, I go to my daughters and mothers on Wednesday and Sunday but that’s it now. I don’t go to any meetings, I just don’t have the concentration to take in any information, and if I’m reading something I have to read it again and again, even then I forget within a couple of days.

We subsequently heard that his assessment for PIP was successful after all. This is great news, but his response shows just how much difficulty people can get into while awaiting decisions about their benefits:

It’s made a real difference as I have paid off my back council tax, put £50 on my heating, £100 on my electric, paid £298.71 off my water bill but I still owe them £1000 so I can come to some sort of agreement with them. My car tax is due at the end of the month so I’ll be able to get a years tax for the first time in two years. I’ve booked my car in for a full service and new front beaks on Thursday. It will be the first service in three years. Been able to fill the tank with petrol and buy food including fruit but the biggest and best thing is I’ll be able to buy my grandson a present for Christmas the one thing that has been worrying me the most.


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