My Benifit Trap

I’ve had enough of moaning about my finances, look at what I’m dealing with!

Npower didn’t deduct my gas/electricity bills via direct debit for over a year, and I avoided Thames Water thinking how unfair it was I had to pay for water which I needed to live…I hadn’t wanted to be brought into this world..Why should I pay for water to live! (stinky attitude I know, but  I’m over it now) then hit me with ridiculous bills each over £1000, and me being a depressed fool (over issues with mother dearest and my daughter) didn’t realise till it was too late!

So I got onto Npower and Thames Water and the amounts they wanted me to pay back out of my benefit was ridiculous and I couldn’t rack up an initial payment of ~£300 each and weekly payments of ~£20 each, so I got onto fuel direct at the DWP who arranged to deduct from my benefit smaller amounts of £3.30 for my current usage and varying amounts for my arrears, which now stand as this

Water: £14.21 on usage + £3.30 for arrears = £17.51 (£485.81 outstanding debt)

Electricity: £9.00 + £3.30 = £12.30 (£798.98 outstanding)

Gas: £14.00 + £3.30 = £17.30 (£1064.19 outstanding)

I then had my income support stopped after I failed an incapacity interview on my depression, and went onto appeal this decision, where I should have been paid income support at a lower rate (the appeal rate) however DWP  had closed my case and couldn’t re open it, so I was back to the job centre who told me to apply for Employment Support Allowance, I did and ended up back at my GP’s getting a medical certificate signing  me off from work, so almost 6 months later (this is how long it took the DWP to realise they has messed up my claim in the first place) my claim got re-instated, and I had to write back again to DWP fuel direct to get my bills taken off my benefit again, and I now had more arrears because DWP had stopped my income support which had stopped my bill payments, I had been living off social fund crisis loans for the 6 months, and had racked up a nice tidy debt with them (which continues to grow) they then sent me a giro for all the payments that had missed over those months, and when I asked if this could be used to pay off my social fund crisis loans id borrowed during their cock-up, and was told a swift NO. So I used it to pay off friends id borrowed from, bought back my jewellery from the pawn shop (which I ended up re pawning later on) and decorated my daughters bedroom (she had moth ridden carpet, so I re floored her room with laminate- DIY with my IKEA saw, no builder helping me; I couldn’t afford it!)

I now am still paying off these gas electricity and water bills from my income support at those rates above, I GET THE FOLLOWING RATE OF BENEFIT

Per week

  • Income Support (under 25 rate)  £50.95
  • Disability Premium                            £27.50
  • Disability Living Allowance            £18.65

My weekly expenditure is as follows:

  • Water:                                                    £17.51
  • Electricity:                                          £12.30
  • Gas:                                                        £17.30
  • TV License:                                       £7.13
  • House contents insurance:          £4.92
  • Travel:                                                  £10
  • Media & Mobile:                               £8.82

So before I even get to spend monies on food I’m left with £17.07 which is way below the government guidelines, which works out at £2.44 per day for meal expenses! And I shouldn’t be spending my DLA on bills! It’s for my care!!

The only luxury I have is my TV, house phone, broadband package with Virgin Media which is often my lifeline when I cant afford to top up my mobile and have to use the house phone to call the DWP to chase up my monies and their incompetence, I did have an email once that I could communicate to them through, but they now ignore my emails for a call back to discuss my claim. This in turn raises my bills, which DWP don’t care about, which in turn raises my stress levels and depression and further prevents me from having any hope of returning to education let alone work!

I have food intolerance’s to wheat and dairy, and birch oral allergy which means my fruit and veg has to be cooked or I react to it (itching and swelling which drives me mad and once led to me cutting my throat with a fork because the itching was that unbearable.. the antihistamine hadn’t kicked in quick enough) I cannot afford to eat the free from foods as they are too costly, take a loaf of economy bread 800g .47p for a normal white loaf, a free from 400g  loaf £1.98, out of my £2.44 daily budget I’m now living off I’m left with .46p  which wouldn’t even get me a jar of jam to go with my bread! And as I’m forced to eat the cheap bread I in turn suffer from the health consequences caused by my allergies which comes in the lovely form of bloating, wind, and extreme changes in bowel movements (yes that’s diarrhoea to constipation) and then requires more medication to prevent/ease these symptoms, more pills and potions to add to my depression! Their have been many founded studies where it has been evidenced that a persons diet affects their life and health including their mental and physical health! But the DWP don’t care about that when they give me £2.44 to live off!

I am now seeking help from Citizens Advise Bureau and were applying to the Thames Water Trust Fund to hopefully wipe my water debt, and get some funding towards my fuel debts with Npower, which will fix this huge decrease in my benefits, may I add that has I not been lured into the switch from British Gas/ Southern Electric their trust funds would be wiping my utility debts, but Npower have no trust fund available to their customers at the bottom of the barrel! I like many switched to reduce my costs paying by direct debit with their cash back option… what a fool I was!

The government did get Npower to bring in their First Step Program, which is meant to help customers like myself… but unfortunately you have to be paying your bills for 6 months consistently, and as the job centre cocked up my bill payments during my appeal process I wasn’t eligible, and as the lady at the First Step Program help line informed me, DWP Fuel Direct is the lowest I could possibly pay, and on their program I would have to pay most likely above £25 per week before they could issue me payments to reduce my utility debts which are paid out in instalments, so it wouldn’t be of any help to those like me in the bottom of the barrel!

So then I think about returning to education to get some qualifications to return to work (I haven’t studied since leaving school aged 14, or worked since my second job aged 16 when my GP signed me off work) I found the lovely job centre staff as ever so helpful, they told me I couldn’t get an adult education grant unless my course was full-time, and if I went onto full-time learning my income support would be stopped as if I can study I can work, and I would be entitled to EMA like benefits 16 year olds still living at home live off, the lovely £30 per week, and I would have to still pay for all my expenses out of that, so id be in a weekly deficit of -£47.98 AND THAT’S NOT INCLUDING FOOD!

And because I have no qualifications or significant work experience the likelihood of me getting a job is well improbable! If uni graduates aren’t even getting employed what hope do I have?!

Plus my work would have to be flexible enough to allow me to attend court hearings in the residency case for my daughters return to my care, appointments with my solicitor, counselling appointments, and still pay me enough to cover my bills (which will be significantly increased to the normal working rate payable) rent, council tax, travel expenses, prescription costs, and my full shopping dietary needs to ensure my health was not affected by my working. Oh and not forgetting still emotionally cope with my dysfunctional family!

I sit here laughing reading this back, because I’ve given up crying about it… everyday another expense crops up and I’m so numbed to the effects it has on my life, if I didn’t have my friends there to treat me for lunch or a drink every now and then id have no social life and id be even more depressed! I can’t go on allowing other people to treat me, I’m doing everything in my power to fix this but unless you can wave the magic wand and get rid of my money worries this is going to be with me for a very long time! I AM TRAPPED- DOOMED IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!

Can anyone offer me help or advice??


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Sick of the health care bill ? Terrified of terrorist attack |
  2. Home Mortgage
    Mar 11, 2010 @ 17:27:21

    Ah! This is awesome! Thank you for putting to rest a few
    confusion I have heard about this as of late.


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