I’ve received some good news. My UC journal today had an letter added to it saying that they have decided that I have limited capability for work and work-related activity. What I don’t know is whether this refers to the fact that I should have been treated as such since the start of my UC claim, on account of being in the ESA Support Group prior to having to claim UC; or whether it relates to my reassessment of capability for work because I have been transferred onto UC. Either is good news: the first means I’m due a packpayment of nearly £1000 for the difference between UC standard allowance and UC LCWRA plus a backpayment because none of my earnings should have been deducted under UC LCWRA due to being less than the work allowance for that group; the second means that I have extra money going forward and don’t need to worry about reassessment for a while.
Already I’m planning the things that I can spend the extra money on. I can stop worrying about how much food my dog needs or about whether, if he doesn’t put on some weight soon, I can afford to take him to the vet. I can stop worrying about how much food I need and whether I can actually get it down to £15/week or not. I can buy some curtains for my lodger’s room and maybe even a new blind to replace the one that is currently nothing more than a large sheet of fabric draped over a pole. I can put some more kitchen units up so that my lodger doesn’t have to store some of her food in her bedroom. I can put the heating on when I’m cold and maybe buy an electric blanket, both of which will reduce chilblains, Reynaud’s and erythromelalgia pain compared to trying to wrap up warm with a hot water bottle when the surrounding air and floor are cold. I can get the plumber back to look at the boiler and try to find the exactly where it is leaking from so that it can be mended. I can buy birthday and Christmas presents for my immediate family and maybe even my brother-in-law.
I could even buy some underlay for the carpet I have been donated for my lodger’s room and which is currently rolled up under the bed.
Crucially, I can stop worrying about the underpayment of my UC housing element and the reduction in benefit that has been imposed in order to reclaim an overpayment that I’ve already repaid. Not because I don’t need this money, but because it’s no longer the difference between poverty and destitution. It’s just poverty and slightly deeper poverty.
I probably won’t know until next week whether the letter refers to a new decision or the reinstatement of an old one. For now, I’m just glad to have it. Weird emotions about feeling guilty or fraudulent for complaining of poverty when, right now, it’s no longer critical can wait for a different blog post.