I’ve been through hell with all the cuts to the NHS and benefits

I’ve been through hell with all the cuts to the NHS and benefits, and the changes to welfare. I’m severely physically disabled and have other health problems that also cause me problems daily. It’s hard to know where to start with all the things.

My wife is my carer, I need help all the time and every day from her to survive and get by. I can’t cook for myself or dress, and need help in the bathroom. I need her help with everything. I don’t know where I’d be without her.

We were made homeless a few years ago because our landlord was selling the house. We had to find somewhere else to rent, which was very hard. The local council had nothing and I needed either an adapted house or bungalow. On top of that, most agents and landlords didn’t want to know if you were on benefits – even if only on benefits due to disability. There is a huge stigma created by horrible people.

It had been a struggle with money after the government cut the local housing allowance. It was a huge cut and had a massive impact. We’d all gone without food at times because there simply wasn’t any money. Our utility bills were out of control because I get very ill if I get too cold and we’re obviously at home most of the time. With so much going out on rent and so little coming in, there was just not the money to pay all the bills. We used a foodbank but you can only use them a set number of times. The foodbank couldn’t provide for our son’s dietary needs either.

Thanks to the kindness of some very special people – who were strangers – we were helped to get a bungalow with adaptations in the private sector. But the letting agent and landlord wanted twice the normal deposit and bond because we are reliant on social security. But we’re only on benefits because of my disability and problems. No one seems to care about the casual discrimination.

But it’s with thanks I can never express that the person helped us with this. The council had nothing and were stuck. I don’t really blame them because their hands were tied too. This is at the hands of the government.

There are not many adapted homes on the private market, but most that come on are very expensive. We found one that could have been suitable, but it was 3 times the rent of what it would be otherwise.

Rents are so expensive even in cheaper areas. The local housing allowance does not cover even the normal rents, so even after getting discretionary housing payments, other money you get supposed to buy food and pay bills goes towards the shortfall. There’s nothing to cut back on and the money you get just doesn’t come close to what is needed.

We have a motability car and we had to sleep in that at one point. It was very painful and cold. I was very ill for weeks afterwards. I nearly lost that too when I was moved to PIP. Next worry on that is the replacement next year. Need a lot of money to get one I can use and get in and out of.

I use the NHS a lot, most weeks. But one clinic I used to go to was closed because of cuts. Staff told patients, so we all knew. Another clinic that I need, I’m supposed to be seen every 2-3 weeks but I now have to wait 6-8 weeks between appointments, which leaves me in pain I need not be in.  Again, cuts, staff told us, they’ve restructured and cut jobs. Fewer jobs means fewer appointments and less cover, so there’s more cancellations on their side and then that creates a backlog. It’s a mess compared to what it was 10 years ago. I had weekly appointments back then.

The cuts have affected all the clinics I use. One of them, I now have to travel across the country to a hospital because the clinics were axed due to cuts near us. It’s hard for me to travel, and I’m now waiting about 8-10 months between appointments, when it used to be a few weeks.

I need a second wheelchair for outdoor use. I cannot get this on the NHS because it’s limited what you can get, and it’s different from region to region. Because of my needs I need a custom one and these cost thousands and thousands of pounds. There’s other things I need that I can’t get on the NHS too. I’m living with all these extra problems and all these extra worries and pain just because of money and cuts. It’s okay if you’ve got money, you can just buy these things.

We have so many extra expenses because of my disability and health problems. They come to just over £550 a month. I know that it’s a lot more for some people with disabilities, but £550 is hefty still. This is after taking into account PIP, which falls way short of the help people need.

Since 2011, there’s been cut after cut – big cuts at that too – and changes from the government that has taken from us more and more. It’s left us with nothing close to being enough to live on, never mind anything else.

I’ve felt suicidal a few times in the past. I’ve been close. But pills, counselling and words only help you for so long. It’s when someone makes a difference to your life that keeps you going, at least for a while.

I’m really worried about the future. Life is just bloody awful every day. You get the feeling the government want you dead. That’s how we feel. You’re constantly confronted with unavoidable costs you just don’t have the money for. We just simply don’t have enough coming in to pay what we have to pay out. It’s an endless debt cycle that we can’t get out of without help.

Darren B

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