Since an article in the Evesham Journal has published the amount of benefits that I receive without any explanation as to why I receive them or what they are for, I decided to talk about it here. This is what my wife and I receive in benefits each week at the moment.
- £158.55 Employment Support Allowance
- £74.63 Housing Benefit
- £18.35 Council Tax Benefit
- £100.70 Disability Living Allowance
- – £105.95 Personal Allowance
- – £20.25 Enhanced Disability Premium
- – £32.35 Support Component
- – £49.30 Mid-Rate Care Allowance
- – £51.40 High-Rate Mobility Allowance
The ESA Personal Allowance covers my wife as well as myself. If I were not married then the Personal Allowance would be £67.50, however my wife does not claim Job Seeker’s Allowance since she is caring for me as a full time job. She has been told that she may still be required to attend a work focussed interview. She saves the council thousands of pounds per year in care charges by looking after me.
Our rent and council tax are not paid every week of the year. Total annual amounts are Band A Council Tax, £960, and rent for a one-bedroom housing association flat, 48 x 74.63 = £3582.24.
Disability Living Allowance is not a replacement for income. It is an extra amount to provide for care costs and to allow me to have some mobility by spending it on things like a wheelchair or a car. Our equivalent annual take-home income without DLA is £12,786.84 and with DLA is £18,023.24. If my wife were able to find a job as a science teacher then she would earn a salary of about £27,000 per year, which would easily make us better off after tax even without claiming tax credits, contribution-based ESA and DLA which we would still be entitled to. However, I would then need someone else to look after me.
I need to make it clear that although I am fortunate enough to receive full support for my illness and disability, a great many people do not. For an example, consider Sue Marsh who has one of the most severe cases of chron’s disease in the country. She has had 7 major life saving operations to remove over 30 obstructions (blockages) from her bowel. She takes chemo-shots every two weeks that suppress her immune system, and exhaustion, pain and nausea plague every single day of her life. She has osteoprosis and malnutrition. She has had major seizures and a stroke. And yet she was inexplicably turned down for Disability Living Allowance.
My claims for ESA and for DLA were difficult and were always in doubt despite my severe illness. It has taken me well over a year to sort out secure housing and income, and on the way to that my wife tried her best to take any and every job available. Although she is a fully qualified science teacher she was unable to find teaching work (even supply teaching) and so took work cleaning and cooking whenever it became available. Because of the sporadic and unpredictable nature of this work we were overpaid housing benefit in 2010 and 2011 and repayments for this are now taken from us every week. We were also evicted from our privately-let home possibly because of our sporadic rent payments, and just about scraped into social housing because of my illness and disability. My health is so bad at this point that my wife has to look after me full time.
With the advent of the Welfare Reform Bill and Personal Independence Payments which will replace Disability Living Allowance things will get much harder. I am much less likely to get PIP, and the process to find out will be hard and will have a negative impact on my health. Between ESA and PIP I am likely to be reassessed far more frequently and with much less chance of being awarded the help that I need. I am very afraid for my future and worried that I will be put into the Work Related Activity Group and have my mobility and care allowances taken away, simultaneously requiring me to work but removing the last bit of support which might allow me to do so.
I hope that by making this information public that I will add to people’s understanding.