09 Mar 2015

A question about : Benefit and help entitlement (Housing benefit)

Heres the situation.

- Living in a 3 bedroom house with 3 people living here including myself. It is owned by 1 of the family members here.

- 2 of the bedrooms are used, the 3rd bedroom was another family members who passed away a few years ago. This cannot be used as a bedroom due to it being filled with memories of the family member who passed away and my mothers medical equipment (who is terminally ill).

- My room is in the dining room. A huge patio door/window leading to outside is on 1 wall. It leaks water (mould all over the ceiling and walls) even though it has been replaced many times. Due to that patio window the room gets boiling hot like a greenhouse during the summer and as cold as outside in the winter (can see myself breathe).

I claim carers allowance and income support combined (Ј420 a month). This is for helping the other family member here (who owns the house) with my mothers care.

My own health has been suffering and I have both Social Anxiety and Depression. I am a very nervous person.

My quality of life is worse because of this house. Neither family members support me with my problems. Due to my mothers illness she can get quite nasty, twist what I tell her in confidence and then tell people i'm lazy and nothing but trouble. The other family member is elderly and are very dismissive because they have gone past a point of caring about anything. (plenty more I could say on this but you get the idea, let's just say its not easy seeing 1 family member have a terminal illness and going downhill each day when I was a kid, then another family member is suffering the same fate).

I realise that 1 of the main causes for my health problems is living here. Over the years I have had medication and counselling but nothing has worked because the source of the problem (living here) is still there.

Here's the main dilemma....

So I need to move out. I would still provide the required amount of care to my mother to allow me to continue claiming carers allowance, yet Ј420 a month simply isn't enough to just get a flat through a letting agent.

The options are limited.

As i'm under 35, I read that I can only claim housing benefit for a bedsit or shared house? Is this correct? Health wise neither of these would be suitable.

The only other option is to be put on the council housing list. Based on the above, am I likely to be put as a higher priority? What sort of council tax discount could I expect?

Thanks and sorry for the long post

Best answers:

  • You get a 25 per cent single person discount on council tax.
    Do you receive DLA ? This will give you a higher disregard too.
  • Thanks for the input both.
    That's good news then that I would still receive something. I feel that for progress I would need a small 1 bedroom house in the countryside (Which are normally less desirable on the council list?) with a smaller overall community so I can ease myself into smaller social situations.
    As for DLA... Nope. A lot of that is down the the NHS and government not taking mental health problems seriously. I was on ESA a while back yet ATOS decided to put an end to that and leave me with no choice but to claim Carers Allowance (which costs the government more money).
    As for the NHS, I have rarely been taken seriously. Once I was given counselling which didn't work and another time citalopram for what they claimed is "mild depression".
    The reality though is SA and depression both ruin my life. I'm never given a chance with a job because of how I come across, i'm a nervous wreck when I leave the house which can often mean i'm made fun of by people. I can't make eye contact with anyone, am physically nervous even when standing in a queue to buy something. I avoid things like dental treatment (even though I would get it for free) because when I have been before, I have been so nervous and it's rather embarrassing when a dental nurse has to hold my head still due to nervous shaking just show the dentist can look in my mouth.
    Due to being fobbed off by NHS GP's, I have had to get witness statements from people that know me and know what i'm going through. Even so, the last time I went (a few weeks back), the GP couldn't be bothered to read them and the only help I received was a print out with information about a book I can read to help myself.
    The lack of ability due to SA then causes the depression side of things (because of having fun poked towards me, realising how much I am missing out on, etc) so I end up sometimes drinking alcohol to self medicate and get rid of my SA symptoms so I can cope with town without being nervous.
  • Unfortunately, there are no miracle treatment for social anxiety. The only way you are going to get better is by facing your fears slowly and gradually so that you realise that you can actually face the world and start enjoying it. Only you can do it though, with the help of counselling.
    You do need to prepare yourself as the more you isolate yourself, the worse it will become, the harder it will be to make the plunge to face your fears and you won't be able to be a carer forever, so you really need to tackle it now to give you time to take small steps towards recovery.
    It is hard to face one's fears, very hard, but those who put themselves through it are those who come out the other side successfully. Counselling can provide you with tips and help you with motivation, but if you don't force yourself to go out and face the world, no-one will be able to take your anxieties away.
  • Thanks,
    In all honesty I have tried everything RE the social anxiety, forums, samaritans. Actually the forums are WORSE for SA due to the amount of moaners on there who complain that SA makes them unable to get a girlfriend. Then when someone who has serious problems comes along, people don't give any cares. As a member for more than 7 years on SA forums I have been told "if you don't like it, shut up and stop moaning" and "Oh well, you have a girlfriend, not reading any more of your post". The samaritains were very patronising.
    FBaby, exactly. I'm aware of that completely. However being in this house amplifies it. I get made to feel so small and low here that each time I am out in public I am a nervous wreck. I also have no independence and would just like to have a clean break and a chance.
    Unfortunately facing the world and getting used to it is not an option because at current it makes me worse.
    Let's take a year or so ago. I decided to make a new start of things. I went to town and intended to put myself in social situations. I soon realised that half the general public are not understanding of things. I tried making new friends but ended up being bullied. People made fun of my nervousness, my slight stutter, my on edge movements. 1 person even said "You been on drugs?". When I replied and explained things to them I was told "Yeah right, you clearly have". That evening I was so low with what had happened I tried to take my own life.
    Been through MIND who were no good really. Without being signed off by a DR, I can't claim disability benefits. No local charity's and no SA related groups (closest is around 100 miles away and I have no way to get there or back). Drinking isn't a problem for me, I only drink to control my SA when out and about. At home I don't drink at all.
    In general I am made to feel very incapable at home which is the sole cause of my SA. Earlier for example my mother asked me to plug her phone charger in. I plugged it in, yet in her head she saw it wasn't plugged in fully. She told me to double check, I did, all was fine. Then as soon as I left the room she told the other family member that I hadn't plugged it in correctly, who checked and confirmed it was all plugged in. I'm always doubted and made to feel incapable by my own family.
    So, my SA certainly isn't in the head as such or my way of thinking. It's caused because of the way I am treated by my own family and others. DR's refuse to see this.
    Thanks for the advice BigAunty regarding housing. I will look into some of the things you mentioned. As for 1 bedroom houses. According to the local council housing figures, in the last year 27 1 bed houses in the countryside were let. Each had between 1 and 6 bids on each. So it seems the demand for 1 bed country village properties isn't that high.
  • Not exactly. I was unaware of my options. If anything I didn't know any different. Plus I was very sceptical about moving out because I knew how much it would upset my mother and even make her illness worse.
    I had been unaware of certain reasons behind it and dr's would almost be different each time I saw them. (1 minute its stress, then nothing, the next its mild depression, then 2 weeks later theres nothing wrong with me).
    Well I do think it definitely would. If anything less pressure is happening in my current situation. I don't have to pay rent, I get the use of all household appliances, no bills to worry about, mostly free food. Yet the price I pay is being a carer for more than 35 hours a week and being made to feel useless by family members that live here. So to avoid that I spend nearly all my free time in my bedroom. My own place in the way I would like would mean dealing with people (when ordering furniture or going to DIY places to make it nicer as a side project) and having to do everything for myself.
    I have had to do it all in my life regardless. No friends, nobody to help me out. I have even had to go for a general anaesthetic operation that required me to have someone accompany me, yet I had nobody who could so had to go on my own and stay in over night instead of going home the same day.
    I can't agree with it always being in someone's head and perhaps this is exactly what the dr's don't understand. The way i'm made to feel at home is a literal thing (This has gone on for many years, even as a kid I was always accused of things I didn't do). Walking down the street and having gangs of teenagers shout some verbal abuse at me is a literal thing. Being beat up on several occasions on nights out due to being an easy target as I was on my own, is a literal thing. I could list more than 1000 things (not even kidding).
    There was certainly no low self esteem. In fact it was the opposite. Yet because of the way I was brought up (as a wimp and even if I only defended myself, I would be in trouble or blamed by my family) I was left unable to defend myself in situations and became a nervous person.
    Thus while it's like this I just want the chance to man up, have my own responsibilities and undo a lot of how I was and still am made to feel.
    As another quick example then. I'm nearly 30 and a few years ago I was put through what could be classed as domestic abuse. When I had put myself out of the situation a distant family member knew what happened and made a threat to that person (even though I told them not to). The police turned up at both our doors and after they had left, my mother (Who claimed to have understood what I went through and was made aware that I told them not to threaten that person) phoned the distant family member and his family, apologised on my behalf and said she's sorry for the trouble I have caused them. I did nothing wrong though. Plus a few days later she was talking behind my back saying that I must have done something to deserve it and she wished she could say sorry to the person because no doubt it would have been my own fault.
    This is what I mean when I say nobody at all understands. It's far from me deciding I want to rent a cheap council house to try and have it easier or thinking it might put me in better health. This is about knowing without a doubt that I will 100% be in better health and finally start having the life I want.
    "but don't dismiss everything people tell you" - In truth it's been the opposite. I have listened to so much advice through SA forums, people who believe they know what my situation is and even DR's. Yet why is it, after 10 whole years after first going for help that I am actually worse health wise than I ever have been?
    Edit:
    Letting agents are not ideal. All in my area require 2 months rent upfront, plus between a Ј50 and Ј90 admin fee. The rate of Housing benefit I would get would be Ј220 a month yet the average rental price is Ј470 (So already i'm only left with barely Ј40 a week to cover water/gas/electric, food, public transport, 75% of council tax)
  • Oh lordy lord Sam. It sounds miserable. So what are we going to do with you then?
    You can't carry on the way you are that's for sure.
    I can assure you THERE IS a landlord that would take you on. Forget all the gumpf that's written. It does exist and it IS out there. And I won't have anyone tell me any different because I know I'm right. I'd bet anyone that I could find it for you.
    But after your last post I'm worried that the whole moving thing is more fantasy to you rather than reality and possibility.
    Try to write down on here your 5 top concerns.
    You have a lot going on so its not all that easy to decipher a starting point.
    In reality what is it that you really want? Your own home? Or a better family? Which is it.
    You will get support on here Sam. Just be patient and try to get straight to the heart of things. What is it that YOU want. Tell us.
  • At some point you are going to have to accept that you cannot change the people around you Sam. That's a given! You don't and nor should you have the power or control to do that. The only person you should have power over is yourself.
    YOU are responsible for your own life and til you start realising that then nothing will change.
    If you can't or don't want to cope with a family that are making your life miserable then you have the right to walk. You have that right.
    You need to make a decision. And you need to make it on your own.
    When you've made it. Then we can help.
  • Thanks miss p. Appreciate it. I agree and I know things need to change asap.
    I will definitely pursue that and as you mentioned, I will give it a try and put myself on those lists today.
    Well, previously from looking at my options it seemed to me the most logical thing was to go for something on the council housing list. 2 countryside areas often have 1 bedroom houses available and with minimal bids (often just 1 bid). I thought council housing was more reliable housing for long term tenants and with the option to buy after.
    I can already prove that I have access to 0 bedrooms (my room is the dining room filled with mould because of the patio window). Yet proving SA/depression (especially from the way I am treated here) could be trickier due to dr's fobbing me off. Although I have arranged a meeting with my mothers consultant in a week (who knows my mums illness better than anyone and can write a letter to the council regarding the problems I face here).
    Would the council even boost me up the list for those reasons?
    I have to remain a carer to my mother so would like my own home, which will allow me to better myself and have that breathing space/independence so when I do come back here and provide care throughout the week, I can provide the very best care. The problem is actively living here.
    I have always known the source of the problem is in this house but guilt has prevented me moving previously (in case my mother has a bad fall and i'm not here to help her, or how gutted she will be to see me move out).
    I obviously don't want to be worse off than I am now accommodation wise and the place has to help me. Thus the countryside is the best option. A smaller community, having to travel on the bus frequently are things that will benefit me and allow me to think differently about things.
    As it stands my life here consists of providing care, then in my free time I sit in my room chain smoking. Whenever I need to go to town or the shops I am very nervous. When I go to town I end up having a few alcoholic drinks because I am so nervous that people do look at me and sometimes make nasty comments. Alcohol removes that nervousness.
    Again, that's where a small country village helps. Instead of having to go through a busy town packed with people, I can be in a smaller community and slowly integrate myself with smaller numbers of people.
    This is indeed about changing my life and I agree that only I can change it. That's why I have thought for ages about this and feel that after 10 years of "help" that has come to nothing, it's time to change things with something I genuinely believe will help
  • Sam, forgive me but I had a look at your previous posts and see that you were working a few years back.
    Don't answer if you don't want to, but was there some particular 'trigger point' for your leaving work?
    Did you leave work to care for your mum, for example?
  • Hiya Sam.
    I fully understand pmlindyloo looking at your past posts but its not something I have done and I generally avoid it like the plague. I have done it, but only when I get jumped on and then I like to know what I'm dealing with but other than that I don't bother because its gone and in the past and it can make the current thread difficult.
    Having said that lindy comes across as very genuine to me and is on the whole a great poster that i generally agree with.
    You are unlikely to find it when it comes to council housing op. Anything is possible but you would have to hound like billyho with evidence and doctors supporting you and you would still have a long wait.
    You need a private landlord for it to happen.
    The guilt is something that you and only you can sort. Guilt is a state of mind. And its a killer. Guilt will never be your friend.
    What is it that you feel guilty about and where is the guilt coming from?
    Why don't you just try something and stop thinking so long term. If you could go for 6 months and have your own place. Would you give it a go? We can worry about the rest later. Things have a habit of falling into place
    But if it was just 6 months then would you go and live independently?
    Do you believe you are capable? Of living independently with financial help?
  • Hi Sam,
    I was really shocked to read that you found the Samaritans response to your problems to be unsympathetic! When I then re-read your posts, it does seem that you take the worst from every situation. I understand that it's largely due to your condition, but it can't actually be YOU Vs The Rest Of The World - can it?
    Maybe it's the way you process the replies and information you are being given. You're obviously a very negative person. Can you maybe work on hearing positive things from the people around you? I'm sure there must be some! You write brilliantly, so you're obviously well educated and well spoken, you must have things going for you, even if they are only small slivers of light at the moment. Focus on some good things and you'll be amazed how differently you start to feel...
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