Millions of people are currently struggling to heat their homes, pay their bills and afford food in the toughest Cost of Living Crisis the UK has seen in 30 years. In our new series, The Disabled Cost of Living, we will hear how disabled people are disproportionately affected, due to their lives already costing more and being valued as less.
The cost of living crisis has impacted most of our lives at this point, whether it be rising energy prices, fuel costs, rent or food, our monthly bills just keep rising and rising.
This has a very immediate effect in that for many of us our money isn’t stretching as far, and some are ending up in debt, but for me there is also a more long-term effect.
My partner and I have been together for three and a half years now, and we’ve been ready to move in together for a while. However, my disability means that I currently rely on Universal Credit to top up my self-employed income, but due to this being means tested, I would lose nearly all of my financial support when I do move in with my partner due to their income.
The government expects my partner to be all of my financial support, a policy that not only strips disabled people of their independence and autonomy — but also leaves them vulnerable to domestic abuse and being financially controlled.
Independence is everything to me, so to move in together I need to be earning enough money that I can support myself without the need for Universal Credit, a challenge difficult enough on its own.
However, the cost of living crisis has just made that ten times harder.
It feels like we have such a mountain to climb now as I see everyone’s bills increase and fuel and food prices skyrocket. The number I need to reach now to achieve my goal of moving out is so much higher than it was even a year ago.
I hear the government constantly talk about the importance of disabled people being in work, of being functioning members of society, but I don’t feel I’ve been given any of the tools to achieve this.
My partner’s income is enough to give them a comfortable life, but it won’t stretch to support both of us, and it certainly won’t stretch to the cost of the adaptations we’ll need to make to our future home.
So much of the financial support out there is means tested, and for those whose income sits only just outside the limit, a task as simple as moving out can seem impossible.
The reality is that I’d be better off living on my own. I’d get council support to find an accessible house, I’d get help with rent costs and making any adaptations to my home. But, that’s not what I want. Like most other long-term couples, my dream is to be living with my partner, I deserve to be able to do this.
I imagine if I could work a more traditional 9-5 full-time job, my partner and I would be living together by now.
The way the government sees it, my options are that I can live alone financially independent, or I can live with my partner, relying on their wage with no money of my own.
I’m trying hard to carve out a third option where I can live with my partner and retain my independence.
It’s hard not to blame yourself as a disabled person when your condition seems to be holding you back. However, it’s plain to see that our society is simply not set up in a way that allows disabled people like me to live the life I want.
The odds were already stacked against us before the crisis, now it feels like our dream just keeps getting pushed further and further away.
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