Crisis? What Crisis? #LHA

Thought I should write about today.. Today we had our application for a Social Fund Crisis Loan turned down. It seems that as we are not “at serious risk” we do not qualify. Even if we had, they would have disallowed the rent deposit and referencing costs anyway, only paying removal expenses and one month’s rent in advance…

If you want to rent a house through a Letting agent, they always ask for referencing costs and 1.5 months rent to be held by a third party incase of damage to the property.  When you vacate, should there be damage they will take the repair costs from your deposit, returning the difference.

Letting Agents are reluctant to rent properties to Local Housing Allowance (formally known as Housing Benefit) recipients.  They blame the landlords and insurance companies for this. Although Letting Agents are prevented by law to discriminate against disibility, race, gender etc, there is no such law in place to protect other LHA claimants.  Nor does the current legislation go far enough, the onus is on the claimant to prove the discrimination is down to their personal status. This is very difficult to prove and the Agent can merely blame the landlord/insurance company anyway…

Another problem that was highlighted by the Agents I spoke to is that LHA is now paid to the tenant, not the landlord/agent – except in certain circumstances.  This has put a great deal of landlords off from renting to LHA tenants, the result of this change in policy having serious affects on the rental market.

So the problem is.. I have a large deposit tied up on my current house. I have no money, having been made redundant in November. We have overstayed our tenancy and our landlord has applied to the court for an eviciton order. Our local housing association have no vacant properties within 15 miles of my childrens schools. It is GCSE year for my eldest so moving out of the area is out of the question.  In three weeks time I will be physically incapable of moving house myself, following my foot operation.

I am not looking for sympathy nor help by writing this blog, I am writing it as a record of the problems faced by people in my situation.  It was suggested to me that I take this up with my MP. That is out of the question so I will ask another about a possible change to the law, preventing Letting Agents from discriminating against LHA recipients in this way.  Perhaps the Government could offer it’s own insurance for LHA claimants?  Also, I suggest an urgent return to LHA being paid directly to the agent/landlord, this policy (introduced in 2008) is NOT working and although the idea behind it was to give tenants more financial responsibility, it has served to create chaos within the housing market.

I’ll keep you posted.. in the meantime I am praying for a HA property to become available in our area.

2010 in a coconut-shell…

2010 was weird and wonderful in equal measure.  As I lost my mobility and personal freedom, I gained Twitter and blogging.  Twitter gave me company and self-esteem through a horrible year, I have even made real-life friends through it, “tweeting up” locally and in Derby. Blogging kept me sane and allowed me to explore writing styles and share my sense of humour in bigger doses than I could do on Twitter (sorry about that 🙂 ).

The Eurovision and World Cup gave me the best laughs of the year as I was inspired to make avatar pictures to represent each country. Eurovison night itself was a massive challenge as I had to change profile picture 25 times! 

Eurovision Avatars!

 

World Cup Avatars

 

Throughout the year I raised awareness for many different causes.  I got myself into a LOT of trouble with my local MP who “outed” my real name, much to my dismay. I really like being Humphrey!  Then, in November I won two Twitter awards, which I am incredibly proud of.

I also cried a lot, more than I have done since I lost my father to cancer.  I cried through sheer self-pity, pain, frustration, anger and loss. Coming to terms with a disability is one of the hardest battles I have ever had to face. I am still dealing with it, every time I look at my feet in the bath I imagine how they will look with their scars and shorter big toes ( first operation is 25th January *shudder*) .  I love my feet!  Always so proud of them, with their elegantly sloping toes and dainty nails.  I think I will have them tattooed with flowers when the surgeon has worked his magic, to cover the scars and make them pretty again : )

Not much else happened through the year, I had a couple of dates, annoyed some people, lost two cats, gained another who is my darling : ) 

Jasmine & Pickles

So, yup!  That’s just about it..

Here’s to 2011, may it be filled with knowledge, wonder, laughter, moustaches, love, excitement and joy!

What starts with “E” and ends in homelessness?

Eviction is one of those words that you’ve heard your whole life, like bankruptcy or jail but never in your darkest, cheese-induced dreams did you ever think you might face yourself.  It’s a “grown-up” word, a word whispered in corners or highlighted in a seedy documentary.

I certainly never considered for a moment that it would ever be a word to cause ME sleepless nights and heart-thumping panic.  That was until I lost my job. Many of you are aware that I’ve had on-going medical issues over the past year, you may not know that I was “let-go” in November.  It was very quick and painless, without  fuss or ceremony, just a P45 dropping quietly onto my doormat.

Nothing to be alarmed about, we have systems in place to help the unemployed of Britain don’t we?  Yes we do and I am so grateful for them, I am a lot worse off financially now than when I was receiving the minimum sick pay from my employer but I knew that with adjustments we had enough money to live on and a roof over our heads.

Then my Landlord gave me notice.  Not a worry, I began looking for another house and found one in my village almost immediately.  Then came the bombshell that made the “Eviction” word a part of my world.  Since the government announced their planned Welfare Reforms, Letting agents will no longer rent properties to Housing Benefits claimants.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Who claims Housing Benefit ?  Single parents, lower-paid workers, mature students, pensioners, unemployed and the disabled.

Putting aside the others as this post is for the Broken Of  Britain, Housing Benefit is claimed by the disabled who are unable to work due to their disabilities or who are in poorly paid employment.  Not only are they already under a lot of financial strain and living in fear of the benefit changes being implemented but now they risk  homelessness as well.

There is a way around the letting problem though, you provide a guarantor for the letting agency.. at double the usual referencing cost and at huge cost to your pride and self-esteem. 

But what if you can’t provide or afford a guarantor?  What will happen to these people? Local Housing Association lists in many areas are already so strained they can only allot houses to homeless people.  My dream is to have a LHA house, to be able to afford the rent which would be half (yes HALF) what I am paying now to my private landlord.  The money I am saving in rent would remain in the public purse, rather than filling the fat wallet of my landlord..

One suggestion I have to address Letting Agent’s concerns is for the government to return to the policy of paying Housing Benefit directly to the Landlord, rather than the claimant. Another would be to reassure claimants and Letting Agencies that HB will always be paid to the low-income disabled and ill people of Great Britain and, if it isn’t already, to make it illegal to discriminate against them in this way.

As for me, I lost the village house to a working family but am now in the “referencing” stage of renting another.. My Landlord has filed papers to commence the process but I am keeping EVERYTHING crossed that the “E” word doesn’t soon become my reality.

On the first day of Cripmas… #disability

.. the Coalition gave to me…

The Broken of Britain proudly present Imana (11 years old) singing “The Twelve Days Of Cripmas”

Twelve Days Of Cripmas Lyrics by @Hossylass :

On the first day of Christmas the Government took from me the right to peace and harmony.

On the second day of Christmas the Government took from me,
social standing,
and the right to peace and harmony

On the third day of Christmas the Government took from me,
my I B,
social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the fourth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
my contributions,
my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the fifth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
my bu-us pass,
my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the sixth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
rights to housing,
my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the seventh day of Christmas the Government took from me,
mobility in care homes,
rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the eighth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
5 years of pension,
mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the ninth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
council funded care,
5 years of pension, mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the tenth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
All my DLA,
council funded care, 5 years of pension, mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the eleventh day of Christmas the Government took from me,
Independent Living Fund,
All my DLA, council funded care, 5 years of pension, mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the Twelfth day of Christmas the Government gave to me,
a ticket to Dignitas.

What’s the difference between a wheelchair and a stick..?

Last Thursday 9th of December the crucial vote on Tuition Fees was held, as we now know, the Lib Dem MPs allowed the vote to pass, despite their personal pledges to the contrary ( read @Gaijinsan21 s far superior explanation about why I am calling them “personal”.. )

This post is not about that however but a story which needs telling, Jody McIntyre’s story.  On Friday last week I read Jody’s account of his day and in particular his brushes with the police.  I was horrified to hear how he was twice pulled from his wheelchair and forcibly moved.  In time however, I began to think that perhaps he had exaggerated or that by putting himself in the front line as he does, maybe he antagonized the situation? 

This footage was uploaded to Youtube today by Jody, taken by a by-stander.  It has been lightened and sharpened by @Harbonaut < #ff please!

In it you can clearly see, as Jody had described last week, a police officer striding over to him in order to remove him from the area.  I believe it is the same officer who is, himself, dragged away from the scene shortly afterwards by his colleagues. 

So far all I have seen reported on the news is violence by the students.  I understand that at this moment there is a young man, Alfie Meadows, who is in hospital, recovering from a truncheon-inflicted brain injury which required a 3 hour operation.  We have also heard much about Camilla being “poked with a stick” by a student, very frightening I am sure but perhaps a little perspective newsteams? 

So what’s the difference between a wheelchair and a stick?

*UPDATED 14th Dec* : BBC News report of this evening on the incident involving Jody…  Watch the end, the interviewer tries to twist the story to make Jody the villain.. Jody stands up for himself, Alfie Meadows and the other students admirably and gets the message about unfair tuition fees across really well, kudos mate.

Here is the footage:

It’s all David Jason’s fault…

Strange title I admit..  Had a “delightful” conversation on Twitter this morning with @Obotheclown who certainly lives up to his name : )  We were “discussing” tax-evasion and the “undeserving poor”..  That phrase, “the undeserving poor” rang a bell with me but I couldn’t place it at the time, I ll come back to it in a bit.

Wayne & Waynetta Slob

My argument was that tax-evasion costs our country £15 BILLION  per year, whilst “benefit thieves” cost  just over £1 BILLION per year (source) .  George Osborne has announced measures to clamp down on these “thieves” , including a £50 fine if they are found to be claiming illegally.  I very much doubt that will have much impact, although if caught three times they will  cut the “thieves” benefits for 3 years as well.  Fantastic! *applause*, that’ll teach the blighter’s.. erm, to burgle, mug, rob.. ? And what will become of their children?  Send them into foster care as their parents can’t afford to feed and clothe them?  Not especially well thought out Mr Osborne.. no change there then.

In order to wheedle out these “no-good, thieving, low-lives”, they are firstly putting incapacity claimants through new tests in a project being piloted in Burnley and Aberdeen, due to be rolled out to the rest of the UK next April.  The aim is to get people who can work off the benefits and onto another benefit.. Job Seekers Allowance, which pays less.  The Work Capability Test which they will face is costly and has a history of mis-diagnosing the ability to work,  70% of appeals against negative decisions are upheld.

Which brings me to the point of this post (yes, there is one) .. who are worse? The “undeserving poor” or the “tax-evaders”?   According to my chum Obo, the “undeserving poor” are.. but I wonder, how did this myth originate?  I have a theory and I lay the blame squarely at the door of one Mr David Jason.. tax evasion is “cool”, to be admired, clap that man on the back…  “Del Boy” is a national hero!

Whilst Vicky Pollard and Wayne and Waynetta Slob are despised, ridiculed and much maligned on our TV’s, David Jason’s Pop Larkin is a cheeky, charming tax dodger with four TV’s and a Roll’s Royce.  Little Britain even showed their wheelchair user Andy as a benefit thief!   The only “undeserving poor” person portrayed on television that I could think of to refute this myth is the fantastic Stanley Holloway… what do you think?

Nadine Dorries “says Sorry”..

Taken from YouTube, with grateful thanks to “TheAslanOfNarnia”…

But, you look so well…

Yesterday was World Arthritis Day and @RosieCosy sent me this link to a really good demonstration on how it is to live with arthritis for a day

However, arthritis doesn’t happen overnight, you don’t just go to sleep and wake up in the “body suit”.  It  is a slow, debilitating illness which can take months or years to develop enough for a diagnosis to be made, as so many people find out.

Mine started in my right hand, around 6 years ago when I was living in Spain. I put it down firstly to the stress of moving, then to too much driving and cleaning, our house had 23 rooms!  My right hand aches, I can feel it right down to my bones, sometimes the ache travels up my arm. I have even felt the same dull ache in my eyes.  It has never deteriorated though, I have bad days with it when I can’t use it and have it wrapped up to try to ease the pain but in general, I cope well with it.

A year ago next week I first saw a Rheumatologist about it, having been referred by my GP.  She ordered full bone scans which did not show any arthritis in my hand but did pick it up in my right toe, which had been painful but I assumed it was just one of those things, as you do…  The toe took until February to stiffen, finally locking itself completely around June.

A year on, I am now walking with a stick, yes, I took “the Secret” out this week after so much Twitter support..  I was amazed at the difference it made, not just to my mobility but to the way I was treated by others. Suddenly, I was disabled in their eyes. I was offered help, doors opened for me, people started unnecessary conversations, maybe to prove they’re not disablist?  Who knows.. It was eye-opening though.

Once I have my operations, I probably wont need the Secret but I will still be suffering from an invisible condition. Just because you cannot see illness, does not mean it doesn’t exist..

Please raise awareness for invisible illness when you can.  If you have a story you would like me to add to this page, please give me a nudge : )

No, SHE writes fiction…

Hello Twitter, Humph calling..

I have been quiet on this whilst seeking advice and am now in the position to put a few things straight.  Various unfounded allegations were made against me on Sunday 10/10/2010 by Ms Nadine Dorries MP for Mid Bedfordshire (Source) 

I am not going to go into each allegation line by line at this time, many of them can be answered by using a little common sense, ie Statutory Sick Pay, Protection of Vulnerable Adults Act etc.

However, there are some allegations that I would like to clear up for myself, now. One of these is the implication that I put graphic photographs of myself on Word Ejaculation which is completely untrue, this is the photograph I displayed there:

 

**  And I added this Roaaar photo to my “Milfs” post:

Although there are graphic images and stories on Word Ejaculation, my tales were accompanied by non-graphic images and the content was less descriptive than the writings of  Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins.

I am not now, nor have I ever been a selected candidate or organiser for the Labour party. Nor have I ever been inside the Houses of Commons, although I would love to go!

I DO consider myself disabled under the “Definition of ‘disability’ under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)”  (as do my doctors!) I am not now, nor have I ever been in receipt of any health related nor unemployment benefits.

I am awaiting two operations on my feet for arthritis. I have been waiting since March 2010 for the operation on my right foot and since August for my left foot.  At no time have I ever said nor suggested that these will be at the same time, although I have heard from several people who have had such treatment.

Thanks for your continued support, I lubs you all muchly x

 *        *       *      *       *        *        *       *      *       *         *        *      
A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes..  Mark Twain 

Twitter gets the stories first, Twitter gets the stories right…  Ms Cushion

 

  ** Updated 13th October 2020

I have a secret…

I have a secret, eating away. Living with me for months but rejected, despised.  Hidden in the corner of my room, unused, unwanted but needed. Needed more each day but still I leave it there, turn my back and walk away, refusing to give in. 

I hate it, I hate all it stands for, as befriending it means giving a piece of myself away. Giving away my freedom, giving away my stupid, stubborn pretence that I am able to live without it.  A constant reminder of my imperfections and vulnerability. An admission that my life will never be the same again. 

Vertigo spins my head, pain throbs through my feet, my neck  – yet still I steady myself on a wall, a chair, a person. The Secret stares at me, willing me to admit defeat but still I resist and look away. The Secret remains, resting but never sleeping, ready for the day that I reach out to it and surrender..

The Secret

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