I am strongly concerned about welfare reform impact upon mixed aged couples.
Many in this group will be pushed into poverty if something is not done to stop this from happening. It is my thoughts that the change in Law to redefined mixed aged couples from a pensioner couple to working couple is illogical, discriminatory and as great potential to inflict harm, even though this may not have been the intention.
How could this change cause harm one may ask. I can best explain by describing personal circumstance and how benefit reform is likely to impact upon my husband and I.
My husband is 66 years old, disabled since having a stroke a number of years ago, he also suffers from COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, he periodically suffers nose bleeds and also he prone to falls. I have been his carer now for a number of years and also have my own health issues which can make my role as a carer more challenging.
My husband receives State Pension, SERPS private pension, an old style workplace pension and Pension Credits, he is also receiving PIP high rate mobility and standard rate care. The only money I receive is Carers Allowance.
Due to the nature of my husbands illness I am unable to work, as no employed would want to employ someone who has to sometimes leave part way through a shift to tend to their partner who has suffered a fall. I can only realistically contribute to society through volunteering, which give me a break from role, provides company and opportunity to learn or develop skills. In the right setting also provides the flexibility needed to allow the time and space to leave immediately should my husband have a fall.
There is likely to be a break in our Pension Credit Claim due to the sale of property, and the likely hood of us being able to claim Pension Credit again before the changes takes place is extremely low. We would then have to claim Universal Credit, this is where the problems start for us.
My husband’s combined income from pensions is over the couple allowance of Universal Credit, this means we will receive zero. Taking my husbands total income including PIP and Carers Allowance and subtracting all the bills including rent, leaves us with roughly £100. This may seem like a lot to live on at first glance till you look at extras that need to be budgeted for.
Due to my husband’s nose bleeds, bedding, towels and his clothes need replacing more often that someone who does not suffer from nose bleeds.
Due to swollen feet and lower legs, we now have to buy him a more specialised shoes which cost £100 per pair.
Due to falling my husbands eye glasses have become damaged and needed to be repaired, the last time he fell they could not be mended and we had to buy new frame at a cost of £85.
My husband also has sore dry feet, Podiatry is no long available on the NHS, so this is something else that needs to be paid for the cost of which is £30 per visit.
He also suffers from Hey fever and cannot longer medication for this on prescriptions, the cost of these vary depending on what stock is available at the chemist, but is between £2 and £5 per box
If I am out of the house doing shopping in the city and my husband has a fall, I come home in a taxi as that is the quickest mode of public transport.
My husband his unable to walk far and relies on the car to get to medical appointments whether GP or Hospital, so fuel needs to be budgeted for.
Obviously there is also the food shop and any new clothes or shoe I need.
It should be plain for anyone to see that £100 per week in not a sufficient amount to cover all these costs.
We will be left to make very hard decisions, do we cut back on heating and a meal for me so that the car can be fuelled so husband can get to medical appointments, or do we keep warm and I have what is often the only meal I generally have that would leave us without money for fuel rendering my husband housebound and unable to get to medical appointments.
If we decided on the latter option which would leave my husband housebound, his over health and well being would suffer greatly, his mobility problems would worsen.
My husband would also not be able to access his care package if there is no fuel for the car. Arranged by Lincolnshire Social Care, my husband has a Personal Assistant who takes him out into the community which keep him included in society and also provides me with a break from my caring role and a little time to myself at home.