Disability Undressed: ‘I don't have the same family support some people do.’

4 May 2017

Nazmeen Nessa, a Can Do volunteer from Birmingham, has anxiety, stress and depression.

Her conditions fluctuate. Sometimes she is able to work; sometimes she isn't.

Nazmeen — and some 500,000 people like her — stands to lose out next time she is unable to work, should she apply for employment support allowance.

New legislation

New legislation was brought into force in April.

This means when people with fluctuating conditions, like Nazmeen, apply for employment support allowance they will now only receive up to £73.10 a week — around £30 less than before.

It is very difficult to live off £102.15, but almost impossible to get by on £73.10.

Struggling to make ends meet

Nazmeen has long struggled to make ends meet, but the changes threaten to exacerbate both her finances and her mental health.

‘I do not have the same family support some people do and I am really quite isolated,’ Nazmeen, whose anxiety prevents her opening her bills or bank statements, explains.

‘I would use additional benefit, if it were available, to pay for a support worker.

‘With a support worker, my health would be better controlled. My risk of getting into debt would be better controlled also, and my chances of getting work through the job centre would be improved.

‘When I have used support workers in the past they have ensured I have kept on top of my bills and job centre appointments, and prevented my conditions from being exacerbated.

‘Without a support worker, sometimes I haven’t been able to face opening my mail.’

Nazmeen wants to apply for personal independence payment so she can get a support worker.

There were changes last month to how that benefit works too. People with certain mental health conditions are ineligible for the transport component of that benefit, new legislation has ruled.

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