My message to the Prime Minister

Downing street sign
CAP client Linda*, who is now debt free, shares the key areas she feels the Prime Minister needs to address. 

I have a brain injury, and at the moment it feels like people with disabilities just don’t matter. One in four people in the UK lives with a disability (and 70–80% of these are invisible illnesses), and there is not enough support available. The benefits system is a minefield, and cuts in local support are having really negative impacts. 

There were a few day centres near me that disabled people could go to, just drop in and have somebody there they could talk to, but they’ve all been sold off. Now the support that’s left is being stretched and people are having to navigate the system on their own.

Trying to do things like claim benefits independently means you can be taken advantage of, or get caught up in the minefield and red tape of social security. 

When I first reached out to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) I was asked by the advisor on the phone, Do you want your claim to be income-based or contribution-based?’ I didn’t know what the difference was, so the person on the phone just decided to go for the contributions-based. I still don’t know what the basis for that was. I have since been told that income-based looks at your income. I now know that I should have selected the other option, but you can’t change it now. I wish there had been proper advice provided.

Instead, I have had to navigate the complicated system with the support of people like my lovely brain injury nurses. Nurses shouldn’t be having to help people to help people with debt and benefit claims.

The UK Government just keeps taking support away. It’s not just disabled people, either – elderly, and homeless people are being affected and there is not enough support or healthcare staff to keep up with demand. We’re being swept under the carpet. It’s just awful.

So my main message to the Prime Minister and any other political party from my first-hand experience of navigating the social security system with a disability would be…

  • Please fund local, community-based support.

  • Make sure that all staff working in the social security system are trained to provide accessible and easy to understand advice to help claimants as they navigate the system.

  • Don’t forget about people with disabilities.

These are my final asks to add to the list regarding the value of in-person free debt advice, and the role that banks could play in reducing spiralling debt situations.

I hope the Prime Minister listens.