When benefits fail to meet our basic needs | Letters

Readers respond to Frances Ryan’s article about disturbing shortcomings in the benefits system which fail some of society’s most vulnerable people

We are pensioners with three disabled children and a disabled grandson; currently we are also supporting my parents, in their 90s, both with multiple health issues. Frances Ryan’s article (Covid made politicians look at our miserly benefits. But is £20 the best they can do?, 31 March) is right to underline that social security must, but currently does not, provide even the most basic safety net. My disabled son, who lives with us, receives a personal independence payment with a mobility component and universal credit – both the health and personal allowance. He also receives a direct payment (DP) allowing for 22 hours per week support from a personal assistant.

Our local authority has just completed a financial assessment and, apart from the minimum income guarantee (£151.45 per week) plus £1.50 per week allowance towards the purchase of his Apple Watch (he is very dependent on routine and prompts), they are claiming every penny of his remaining “disposable” income (£109.68 per week) towards the cost of his DP. I don’t blame them, as they are forced to claw back every penny to support services. Citizens Advice has checked the figures and says they are accurate, and that we should feel fortunate it has taken this long for the assessment to take place. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we don’t. This article explains why I don’t sleep well at night.
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