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AIBU to be incensed at the inequalities in the benefit system? (long sorry)

(259 Posts)
Libran70 Mon 27-Jan-14 10:48:11

I read MN every day and think how awful it is that so many people are struggling to cope on inadequate benefits and of the nit picking interviews they have to go through to get anything extra. And then there's ASOS causing so much upset and forcing disabled people to justify their existence.

I know there is a very small minority who play the system but they seem to be the only ones we ever hear about. So many people are struggling, no one should have to go to a food bank to feed their children.

However, there are cases where the money could be shuffled around and aimed at those really struggling.

My cousin is autistic and she lives in a wonderful complex within the community. She has a flat (bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom) and there is a care worker on call 24/7. SWs call daily to help her prepare meals, do her washing, take her shopping and so on. She also has an active social life, organised by SS and a local charity. She also has a supported job washing up in an old people's home close by. She sees her remaining parent every weekend and they go on holiday together. She pays for her own holidays and some of the care from her allowances.

This really is an example of excellent care. She was recently reassessed and she is entitled to every penny she gets in allowances and benefits.

However, she has a five figure amount of money in savings. All of this is saved from her benefits and allowances. I hope she has a long life ahead of her but when she dies this money and a lot more, I guess, will go to her family.

AIBU in thinking that this would not be fair? And AIBU in thinking she is getting far too much (at the moment) and there are people out there who need it more?

Suelford Mon 27-Jan-14 10:51:24

You don't actually say how much she gets, so how can we know if she is "getting far too much"?

Seff Mon 27-Jan-14 10:53:05

Circumstances can be so different, though. There's a difference between someone who has been on DLA (for example) all their lives and someone who had a job, mortgage and other debts and then had to go on benefits.

Savings should be taken into account though, IMO. Having said that however, with the way the government treat the welfare budget, I wouldn't want to count on receiving full benefits for the rest of my life and would expect that one day Mr Osbourne and his cronies would try and take it all away from me. So in that respect, maybe it's a good thing to have the savings there just in case.

Tricky one, though. But the govt/media are only interested in talking about "scroungers" and don't seem to have time to really think about what's best for the people on welfare rather than the balance sheet.

SabraCadabra Mon 27-Jan-14 10:59:22

My DP is recently disabled due to AVN in his hips, he can only walk few steps is in wheelchair. He's claiming ESA support group which he has been on for ages for other things. Friends/family keep telling him to claim DLA but hes scared ATOS will do a number on him and he'll lose his ESA. Its a pain as we really need the extra money weve no car and now have to take taxis everywhere, and he could do with new wheelchair his is falling to bits. Plus if he gets on DLA would it open other things for him? We're in 2bed council house really need 1 bed ground floor flat.He cant get upstairs to bathroom we have a 24hr Asda over road have to use disabled loo there.

Libran70 Mon 27-Jan-14 11:01:06

I don't know the exact sum she gets, only the amount of savings. She is very comfortable where she is and has everything she needs, including holidays abroad. I'd be the first out there shouting if she wasn't getting enough.

But currently she is getting more than she needs and it would be better spent elsewhere. That's what I was thinking.

5HundredUsernamesLater Mon 27-Jan-14 11:01:51

I think the whole benefits system needs looking at and that far more benefits should be means tested. Child benefit for example has always been paid to everyone wether they need it or not also state pension. A relative of mine who is a pensioner has never touched any of his state pension as he already has more money than he will ever need without it. It's just piling up in the bank to make a tidy sum for his daughters inheritance. I'm not saying that every pensioner is as lucky but I think any state handout should only be awarded following a full assessment and any savings should be taken into account.

Libran70 Mon 27-Jan-14 11:02:18

Sabra that's the sort of thing I think the "extra" money should go to.

hoppingmad Mon 27-Jan-14 11:03:36

Sabra, have you thought about an exchange? I'm sure there will be people looking to swap for the extra bedroom

WooWooOwl Mon 27-Jan-14 11:04:02

If this is the position that your cousin is in, then it's one of very few examples of the benefits system doing a good job.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a benefits system that effectively compensates someone for the earnings that they will never be able to make for themselves because of a disability. I don't think this type of benefit should be at all means tested.

There might be people that need it more due to their own disability and circumstances, but then that's what needs to be changed, not the amount your cousin gets.

SabraCadabra Mon 27-Jan-14 11:07:12

Weve looked at exchanging but theres hardly any flats here mainly houses. I think a lot of people exchanged because of the idiotic bedroom tax too.

Lucked Mon 27-Jan-14 11:07:32

I think with some benefits savings are taken into account. My aunt works in this area and has been in the homes of old ladies with really old furniture/appliances and heating down low etc begging them to spend their savings so they can carry on getting all their benefits.

Tbh if your are completely dependent on benefits and are able to save I think you are wise to as you never know what service may be cut in the future.

WilsonFrickett Mon 27-Jan-14 11:09:12

So your cousin pays for some of her care, yet is able to save some money from her benefits/wages and you think she should be penalised for that?

I know some benefits are meant as a temporary 'safety net' but your cousin is disabled. Why shouldn't she be able to save a little bit of money? Good on her for being able to do this. She's entitled to a little bit of extra security, just like anyone else. Because she is just like anyone else. She is out working ffs - why shouldn't she have some money put by for a rainy day?

sashh Mon 27-Jan-14 11:09:15


The thing is your relative is lucky that there is a place like that for her to live. Somewhere like that is rare. If she was in a bog standard council flat do you think she would have savings?

Once her savings go over a certain amount her benefit will be cut accordingly.

Also, assuming she is on IB, as soon as that swaps to ESA she will loose about £45 a week.

Binkyridesagain Mon 27-Jan-14 11:10:37

If she is managing to save some money from her benfits then good on her. There is no guarantee she will carry on receiving the level of support she has, or that she can carry on living where she is, or has a job, or even will continue to receive the benefits she does. Having some savings gives her a little bit of a cushion for the future.

hoppingmad Mon 27-Jan-14 11:11:49

That's a shame sabra. Fwiw I don't think esa & dla are connected and you can qualify for one and not the other so I don't think there's anything to lose by applying. Your local cab office might be able to help?

I agree with woowoo though, dla is different to other benefits. A person whose earning capability is reduced or non existent through no fault of their own is no less entitled to holidays/savings etc than a working person.

WilsonFrickett Mon 27-Jan-14 11:15:53

Also - incensed? You are incensed by this? Really?

BackOnlyBriefly Mon 27-Jan-14 11:18:32

When you say 5 figures it makes a difference which 5 figures. 10,000 or 99,000

badtime Mon 27-Jan-14 11:19:47

OP, with the way local authorities are 'reableing' people at the moment (i.e. sending an OT round a few times to tell them how to do things, then saying 'right, you're not disabled any more', then trying to cut their care packages), your cousin may not be in such a comfortable position for ever.

I think YABU.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 27-Jan-14 11:21:46

I am pretty sure that here in Wales people cannot amass more than a certain amount of savings without their benefit being affected.

ShooCat Mon 27-Jan-14 11:24:21

I have to say that I do agree in part. My mother in law is retired and lives entirely on state benefits, some of which are related to her disability. She has an extremely high standard of living including holidays abroad. She can't hold much in savings as it would affect her pension credit so she just spends and spends on clothes, luxury toiletries, expensive hairdressing etc. I don't begrudge her it, but it is a bit out of kilter that she has so much disposable income while others are really struggling.

FutTheShuckUp Mon 27-Jan-14 11:26:14

Sorry but I couldn't help but chuckle at ASOS...all they've done in this is sell clothes don't hate on them

BackOnlyBriefly Mon 27-Jan-14 11:27:00

It depends which benefits. For example incapacity benefit isn't means tested, but treated like an insurance you took out which pays out $xx.xx when you are sick, but you wouldn't get all the other extras if you had a large bank balance.

I think the cut of begins at £16,000, but for some benefits it may be much lower.

Poloholo Mon 27-Jan-14 11:28:19

OP it sounds like your cousin is well looked after which is great. I see your point about her being able to save but is it a bad thing is she has managed her money carefully to put some aside?

WilsonFrickett Mon 27-Jan-14 11:29:36

To be honest Shoo I do believe that some pension benefits should be means tested. I think it's a disgrace that millionaires can have a free bus pass and that people who spend the coldest 6 weeks of the year in Spain can claim winter fuel allowance. But as pensioners are the biggest block of voters I can't see any govt doing anything about it any time soon.

zebrafinch Mon 27-Jan-14 11:31:22

DLA is not means tested but other benefits are and savings are taken into account for means tested benefits
Are you jealous that your cousin can have something approaching a normal life? one that other people her age can have? In my experience disability means a long slide into poverty for most people.

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