Tag Archives: Steve – Norfolk

Who said the poor can’t budget? Read this IDS and hang your head in shame.

sRBT1  I discovered an interesting website dedicated to collecting stories of people struggling with the bedroom tax. Sadly http://www.bedroomtax.org.uk/ so far has only one story, the story of Sue and Steve from Norfolk. But what a story it is. Its the story of a man, disabled by an accident, who has to count every penny in order to survive. I’ve reproduced his story below and urge anyone who has their own story to tell to contact this website and so help them build a database of hard evidence of what is actually happening to ordinary decent folk. Here’s Sue and Steve of Norfolk’s story. I challenge anyone to read it without shedding a tear…

 

Sue and Steve – Norfolk

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2013

Our story so far

 First some old history. In November 2000, I was in a car accident in which a car hit me from behind while I was parked off the road. The driver’s side (off side) of the other car hit the passenger’s side (near side) of my car.

 As a result, I have been using a wheelchair and not only have back, and neck injuries, but I have suffered a ‘Cardiac Incident,’ (a minor heart attack), due to rapidly increasing weight.  I had been a runner, running marathons and used a lot of energy; this meant I had a big appetite and it took a long time to change that and reduce my weight which at its worst was 28 stone, plus.

 I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, sever pain in the lower back and neck and constantly have to have pain relief.  My left leg is useless as a leg, and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware of where it is.  My right leg is better but standing upright, for even a few seconds’ causes a massive increase in pain then, I collapse and have even passed out.

 I have an adapted bungalow with a ramp access and a mobility adapted car.  I do not work as to spend more than four hours out of bed reduces me to tears because of the increase in pain. I could work from home, and under permitted work rules I teach a computer beginners class once a week in my village for two hours.  I spend a lot of time in bed and have, thanks to the ‘Royal British Legion,’ a top range bed which is motorised to allow me to sit more comfortably and use my computer.

 I have had three assessments by the Occupational Therapist in recent years and all recommend I have my own separate bedroom because of my medical conditions.  So, when the ‘Bedroom Tax’ came to light I was not overly worried for myself or other disabled people in a similar position as me as, we had an extra bedroom for my medical needs.

 At first, it was unclear how things were going to ‘pan out’ with the new regulations but one thing became clear, very quickly, the poorest people would once again be hit hardest by the new rules.  While this was happening the richest people would be paying less tax with a reduction of the higher rate income tax.

 First we had the letter telling us that our Housing Benefit was to be reduced by 14% as we have a two bedroom bungalow and as a married couple we only need one bedroom. I pointed out that we were only allowed the two bedroom bungalow because of my medical condition. ‘We know that,’ said my local housing benefits office, ‘but the Government has said that having an extra room for medical reasons is not to be taken into account.’  We could, however, apply for a payment from a discretionary fund to make up the shortfall.

 We applied for this in February and eight weeks later they have still not even looked at our application because there is still some confusion as to what our situation is, due to the Government not giving correct, or timely information. The council informed us that it is not clear if we should have our benefits reduced, and it is not clear that if we should, if they are allowed to help disabled people with a medical need for an extra bedroom from the Discretionary Fund.

 My first thoughts have been along the lines of what a ?$%& up. The second being, if it is a Discretionary Fund surely, that means the people controlling the funds can use their discretion on how it is used and who benefits from it.

 While this is going on we have also been told we will have to pay some of our council tax as well, which means that overall our housing benefit and council tax benefit will be reduce by 22.5%. This means we will have to find an extra £14.50p, in round figures, a week out of our benefits to pay these two items which is close to 10% of our weekly income support.

 So, where is this money coming from? Well, after a review of our budget (and we have run a budget for years to keep control of spending) we found that the only area we had so far not cut down on was food.  We already do not have any heating on in the house except Sue has a ‘Calor Gas’ heater for which she makes two bottles of gas last her the whole autumn winter and spring. I have not had heating in my bedroom for five years. I just pile on extra covers on my bed to keep warm and wear mittens (fingerless gloves) to keep my hands warm when using the computer.

 So, as I am the member of our small family who is benefiting from having the extra bedroom I am going to take a cut in my food. I have devised a plan to bring my weekly food bill down to just £12.71, Which includes all my food, hot drinks and a bottle of flavoured water a day.

 I will have porridge for breakfast every day, costing just £ 0.17p a day, with that I will have a herbal tea cost £0.04p then at lunch time I will have a frozen meal which costs just £1.00p a meal No extras like vegetables or potatoes just the meal, Sheppard’s pie, cottage pie, beef lasagne, beef stew, corn beef hash, mince hot pot, Yorkshire pudding with either sausages, or beef and vegetables, in gravy.

 For my evening meal I will have a tin of rice pudding, £ 0.15p every day and before Sue goes to bed I will have a cup of drinking chocolate, cost just £ 0.07p. Add to that a bottle of flavoured water at £ 0.38p and that will be all my food budget for a week.

 Not a lot of variety accept the lunch meal!  You may ask about extra salt and condiments but I will do without them and stick to my budget.  You can see my basic working out of food costs below I have even included the calorie values. You will see that nearly half of my calories a day will come from the £ 0.15p can of rice pudding.

Of course, if they decide to cut any more of my benefits then cutting down on my food will be well, a little difficult!  I have effectively, reduced my food budget by half to pay to keep a roof over Sue and my heads.

 Now, I wonder if any of our MPs would like follow me on my diet and donate the saving in food to a children’s charity?  I doubt if they would take up the challenge to do it for one week, I will have to do it for a whole year, to make up for the loss in benefits and pay our rent.  Of course I am better off than many in this world who will die because of a lack of food, in a world which grows enough to feed every one!

 This is how I have worked out the cost of my meals.

Meal

Ingredient

Amount

Cost

Cost of Meal

Cost per day

Cost per week

Breakfast

Porridge Oats

0.050

£0.05

Milk

0.350

£0.11

Sugar

0.013

£0.01

£0.17

£0.17

£1.22

Lunch

Box Meal

1.000

£1.00

£1.00

£1.00

£7.00

Tea

Tin of Rice

1

£0.15

£0.15

£0.15

£1.05

Water

Per day

1

£0.38

£0.38

£0.38

£2.63

Hot Chocolate

Cup

0.035

£0.07

Sugar

0.004

£0.0

£0.07

£0.07

£0.51

Herbal Tea

Cup

1

0.04

Sugar

0.004

£0.0

£0.04

£0.04

£0.30

£1.82

£12.71

 This is the calories in my meals

Meal

Ingredient

Cal

Cal per Meal

Cal per day

Cal per week

Breakfast

Porridge Oats

157.500

Milk

171.500

Sugar

50.125

379.125

379.125

2653.875

Lunch

Box Meal

371.000

371.000

371.000

2597.000

Tea

Tin of Rice

700.000

700.000

4900.000

Water

Per day

6.200

6.200

6.200

43.400

Hot Chocolate

Cup

129.850

Sugar

16.040

145.890

145.890

1021.230

Herbal Tea

Cup

0

Sugar

16.04

16.04

16.04

112.28

1618.255

11327.785

 This is the cost of the basic Items which make up my meals

Item

Size

Cost

Size Type

Cal

Porridge Oats

1.500

£1.60

KG

4725

Milk

6.000

£1.89

L

2940

Sugar

1.000

£0.89

KG

4010

Box Meal

1.000

£1.00

Unit

371

Tin of Rice

1.000

£0.15

Unit

700

Water

4

£1.50

Units

24.8

Hot Chocolate

0.5

£0.99

KG

1855

Herbal Tea

20.000

£0.80

Bags

0