Like millions of people across the UK, I receive Personal Independence Payments because I am in a wheelchair, I need help accessing the community and help with personal care.
This was not always the case I became disabled in 2014, following a spinal injury and had never claimed any benefits before this.
In that time, I have tried to express my voice and raise awareness of things like disability discrimination, fighting for equality, and trying to say the right thing in the right way, without being too controversial.
I am fully aware what I am about to say is controversial to many people. However, it is an issue that I believe needs to be raised and addressed sooner rather than later.
This morning, I looked out the window and saw a beautiful array of frost all over the floor. This also sent dread through my heart, knowing that millions of people across the UK with disabilities would have to put on their heating which they cannot afford. After checking the post box, I received a letter from the Department of Working Pensions to say that I was getting a £10 Christmas bonus. The Christmas bonus was introduced by the UK government to help with high rates of inflation 50 years ago and was still £10 back then in 1972.
Unless you have been living on the moon? We are in a massive cost of living crisis and according to the Office of National Statistics £1 in 1972 was the equivalent of £15.59 in today’s money. This means that the £10 Christmas bonus which has not changed in 50 years should be £155.90, as a £10 Christmas bonus would not pay for two hours car parking in London.
The reason why this is a controversial story is because I know a lot of people to whom £10 is a lot of money to and it is their bread, milk, butter, potatoes for the week. I fully understand that people might have issues with what I am about to say, but I am trying to look at the bigger picture rather than just a £10 Christmas bonus from 1972, which hasn’t been changed or been updated in 50 years.
Price of gas and electricity have more than doubled in the past year and will increase again in the new year, placing people who are vulnerable and disabled in a very difficult situation on having to choose between food and heat.
A family who had to use a GoFundMe page to get an extension for the disabled daughter because the Disability Facilities Grant was not enough.
There was a story by the BBC last week that no homes for the disabled community are being built, something which I personally wrote about four years ago, as there was no rentable or buyable accommodation for people in wheelchairs in the whole of the Leicestershire area.
DWP has spent hundreds of millions of pounds trying to say that people with legitimate claims are liars, taking them to court and losing.
Off the top of my head, this is just some of the fundamental issues affecting the UK and the disabled community today there is blatant discrimination, the benefits people receive are not enough o pay their bills and the government still insist on sending out a £10 Christmas bonus for a happier 2023.
In a few years’ time, it will be more costly to send out the paperwork and to do the transactions of the £10 Christmas bonus than it actually is to pay the Christmas bonus given the cost of envelopes, stamps, staff time dedicated to this Christmas insult.
I have personally donated my £10 to a local charity. I find this £10 bonus laughable if it wasn’t so insulting, it is an insult that keeps on intruding on my post box every year. If the government are serious about continuing with this £10 Christmas bonus, then they need to increase it with inflation to £155.90 bonus, so that people can actually use the bonus in what it was intended, for, which was to help with the cost of inflation back in 1972.
In the meantime, I wish everyone a safe and hopefully warm Merry Christmas.