The DWP is Crushing my Dreams of Staying With my Partner
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 two and a half years now, and we’ve been living together for a while. However, my disability means that I currently rely on Universal Credit & my partner to pay my bills, but due to this being means tested, I have lost nearly all of my financial support since moving in with my partner because of her 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 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 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 earning 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, 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 her a somewhat comfortable life, but it won’t stretch to support both of us, and I certainly do not want it to. She spends roughly 40 hrs a week at work so she can buy us food and so the rent can be paid on time, I want anything but to rely on her money. I don't expect her to out-work herself every week to pay for us both but unfortunately, right now, she has to.
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, I dream of living with my partner. I deserve to be able to do this, but I'm scared it won't be for much longer.
I imagine if I could work a more traditional 9-5 full-time job, my partner and I would be living such a better life. 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 her wage with no money of my own. I’m trying so 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 everything just keeps getting pushed further and further away.