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Help, I'm being clutched in the jaws of a vicious povertee! - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
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sesquipedality
sesquipedality
Help, I'm being clutched in the jaws of a vicious povertee!
Because of late I've been leeching money I've been thinking a lot about financial sustainability, and how trying to get some work might affect me financially.

In my current state, that is being on Incapacity Benefit, Income Support and DLA after bills and regular expenses/utilities, I reckon I have about £100 a week to feed myself, clothe myself, and have a good time with. In this respect I'm about three times better off than someone on the dole, and thus can afford luxuries like broadband internet etc.

Anyway, my rent is 7800 a year, which is paid by Housing Benefit. Add in Council Tax and that gives total accommodation costs of about 9000 pounds per year. Subtracting my DLA (which is not means tested, so would continue regardless of my employment status) from my current benefits gives £122 a week. So to maintain my current opulent and excessive lifestyle would require an income after tax of £6344 a year. Assuming I claimed no other benefits than DLA, this means I would need a take home pay of £15344/yr to be self-sufficient. Funnily enough, the Prue's Income Tax calculator tells me I'd need to be earning pretty much on the dot of £20,000 a year for this to happen.

Before my illness, I earned £30,000/year. If I pushed myself at the moment, I might be able to work 3 days a week. Being as I've been out of work for a while now, realistically I'm unlikely to get something at my previous salary level, so the absolute maximum I'd be capable of getting at the moment, assuming a part-time job for which my experience applied was available (which they don't seem to be) would be £18,000.

In other words, I appear to be royally shafted. Obviously there might be some tax credits I could claim if working and also partial housing and council tax benefit might be available, but I wouldn't expect much if anything to be available above about £15.000/annum.

Given that the received wisdom with chronic fatigue is to build up one's work commitments gradually, just exactly how am I supposed to get back to work?
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Comments
uitlander From: uitlander Date: May 17th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I believe this is commonly known as the 'benefits trap'. I don't have a solution, but if I turned Tory I would take all your benefits away and force you back into the workplace for your own good.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: May 17th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's probably possible to live on slightly less than £100 a week. That's what I'm currently living on, and includes £40 a week to get to work, plus food for three cats and two guinea pigs, plus on a low-carb diet I'm eating expensive meat.

Where's your money going, and what can you cut out? For example it's possible, though tedious, to cut food bills to £20.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: May 17th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I spend too much on food, certainly. If I were to move to an all-pasta diet, I'm sure I could knock about 30 quid a week off my bills, but ... ewww. Internet is a luxury and could potentially go, but would also negatively impact my quality of life in a very big way. There's 20 pounds a week I could save by never buying takeaway food. I could also stop travelling anywhere and roleplaying.

It's certainly possible to tighten my belt. The thing is, if I stay on Incapacity, I don't have to (as much). I already regard my current lifestyle as imposing undue hardship.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: May 17th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, plainly any life where you and I aren't living in palaces waited on hand and foot by gorgeous naked slaves imposes undue hardship!

The internet I regard as a necessity, and a certain amount of roleplay is of course the stuff of life. I'd squeeze the food (especially the takeaway), if I were you.
emperor From: emperor Date: May 17th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
CAB might be able to help advise on whether you could do a bit of work and not be worse off at least?

Sorry, I know ****-all about benefits.
lanfykins From: lanfykins Date: May 17th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suspect sesquipedality has already provided herself with the best advice she can give...
emperor From: emperor Date: May 17th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, bollocks, I am a moron. Sorry!
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: May 17th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gave me a laugh, anyway. ;)
markbanang From: markbanang Date: May 18th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, you see if you'd only maintained a lofty aire of aloofness and said nothing we might have assumed that you were just making a clever in-joke. *8')
j4 From: j4 Date: May 17th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given that the received wisdom with chronic fatigue is to build up one's work commitments gradually, just exactly how am I supposed to get back to work?

I am almost certainly missing something obvious here, but ... given that you already volunteer at the CAB, I'm assuming that doing voluntary work doesn't count as "work" for the purposes of not getting benefits? Because I'm sure it would count as "build[ing] up one's work commitments gradually" for the purposes of helping you build up your strength. Could you increase your hours there (or take on another voluntary thing as well - preferably something related to the sort of work you want to go back to!) until you get to the point where you know you can work full-time, and then start looking for paid jobs?
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: May 17th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can't work more than 16 hrs/wk and still receive incapacity benefit. Theoretically I could take on a little more at the CAB, but the benefit to me would be marginal, and wouldn't make me any more employable in the eyes of potential employers, sadly.

This is, of course, the fallback plan and the one I'll probably end up going with.
imc From: imc Date: May 21st, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Getting off incapacity benefit is a bitch (bopeepsheep has the same problem, although she thinks they may stop hers anyway at the next medical assessment). However, having been on IB does qualify you for a bit extra on Working Tax Credit.

If you work at least 16 but less than 30 hours per week then it appears you will get some tax credit if your salary is less than £15,900pa. However, tax credit entitlement appears to be calculated on your income during the previous tax year unless your income goes up by more than the "income disregard" figure, in which case entitlement will (eventually) be worked out on this year's income minus the disregard figure. The disregard figure used to be £2,500 but apparently now it's £25,000. So it may be that you'll qualify for up to £3,955 of tax credit pro-rated until April even if it gets reduced to zero after that.

(I could easily be wrong, of course.)
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