Rising costs will soon leave me out of options
One of our supporters told us about the impact the cost of living crisis is having on their life and why they're scared for the future.
I've become an expert in frugality, owing to the ever-increasing difficulty of making ends meet on disability benefits that have not been adequately adjusted for inflation and rising costs.
Disabled people are feeling the pinch as the cost-of-living soars
Unfortunately, I know that from bitter experience. This is why we have a welfare system, you might argue. But those benefits were barely enough to survive on even before prices started rocketing.
The government's attitude to rising costs was typified by George Eustice saying that people on low incomes could cook a decent meal for 30p. The problem is that you can't, especially if you factor in energy costs for food preparation.
I've become an expert in frugality, owing to the ever-increasing difficulty of making ends meet on disability benefits that have not been adequately adjusted for inflation and rising costs. But there's frugal, and then there's impossible. Cooking a meal for 30p is the latter.
We can't all make meals from scratch
Of course, it's possible to cut costs by buying supermarkets' own brands and cooking from scratch. But not all disabled people can spend hours preparing meals from scratch, or at least not all the time. As for me, I make a tomato and onion-based curry sauce and some vegetables entirely from scratch and freeze it. Even with cheap basic ingredients, it works out at about £1 a portion. It's tiring and time-consuming.
Chopping veg and pounding spices isn't easy for anyone with arthritic hands, and then there's the slaving over a hot stove. It was easier when I had a food processor. Still, mine - probably 30 years old - finally died, which means spending perhaps forty minutes or more cutting up the veg needed for several portions and prepping the spices and essential flavouring ingredients.
The government needs to do more
Disabled people are telling us they are scared, and out of solutions.
We all believe the government must immediately increase benefits to reflect the real cost of living. Do you?
Nowhere left to cut back
Usually, by the time it's done, I'm too exhausted to eat it. All my meals are cheap. Breakfast is free - I don't have any. But this government doesn't seem to realise that benefits are so measly that there's nowhere left to cut back. Unexpected expenses regularly crop up, and benefits don't cover those.
Last year, my laptop died. These days, a computer is an essential and a lifeline for anyone who can't get out and about. I managed to get a new computer on a six-month, buy now, pay later basis. The £50 I repaid every month came mainly from my food budget since there's nowhere else to trim. My ancient mobile phone also died, but I can't afford to replace that too, so I'm trying to make do without.
I'm not an economist, but I know that recession is partly driven by consumer borrowing. An article in the Guardian (31 May 2022) reported that 'UK consumers have now put more than £3bn on credit cards in the past three months alone, and another £1.6bn on other forms of credit, some of which will have inevitably been used to cover bills and meet other essential costs.' A financial commentator said: 'This latest rise in consumer credit will trigger even more alarm bells at the Bank of England. It shows the economic storm clouds are getting darker by the day.'
We can't survive on benefits
The reality is that many people on benefits can't survive without credit when unexpected expenses hit. Not raising disability benefits in line with inflation sooner so people aren't on the brink not only causes extreme hardship. It's also a stupid, false economy. It'll cost us all dearly in the long run.