Claire has been working at [disabled people’s organization] for six months. She is an employment and independent living advisor.
Claire’s role involves meeting disabled people, discussing the type of job they would like and helping them with CV writing skills, filling in job applications, to appraise their skills and to support them with information about appropriate training for independent living and pre-employment skills.
Claire also supports people once they have a job so that if they are experiencing difficulties they can contact her and she will help them to find ways to stay in employment.
On the day I met her, Claire was working with a young woman and her aunt and spent time with them getting to know the client and filling in a job application.
Claire values living independently in her local community. Unfortunately, she is currently living in expensive accommodation that doesn’t fit her needs. She has been top of the housing list for seven years but, as yet, no accessible accommodation has become available in her borough
In the past, Claire has been worried about moving out of borough into another borough in the city because this will trigger a reassessment of her social care budget and the possibility of less support. However, uncertainty about continuity of care in her current borough means that she is considering moving to another borough for appropriate housing – but she is worried about not being anywhere near the top of the housing list.
Claire is also worried about continuing to be able to live independently, recent news reports about ‘warehousing’ disabled people are very alarming. Claire is worried that she could be put in housing that means that she would no longer be able to get to work. She has spent the last 17 years getting an education and building a career and fears for the future because of the fear of being put into inappropriate housing and having her social care budget cut. Claire has an undergraduate degree, a masters degree and a certificate in counselling, despite leaving special school with only five GCSEs.
Claire works for sixteen hours a week but is paid above minimum wage so can’t claim Employment Support Allowance. But she doesn’t want to claim it either. She hates claiming benefits. She doesn’t like claiming housing benefit. The only benefit she doesn’t worry about claiming is Disability Living Allowance because she accepts that this is to help with the extra costs of living associated with disability.
Claire’s housing situation has deteriorated since the current landlord took over and immediately put rent up £120. He refused to let Claire sign 5 year lease and so she is not able to apply for the disabled facilities grant that she needs in order to adapt the house to her needs. She’s angry that her housing benefit is mainly benefitting the landlord and knows that council accommodation would be much cheaper.
The housing situation is getting Claire down, she feels her brain is ‘full of the housing situation’ and she doesn’t want to go out and bore other people with it. Going out can also be difficult because of lack of personal assistant hours. Claire has to work out how much she can drink so she doesn’t need to use the toilet.
Claire moved to the city to be independent and because she didn’t want her parents to be forced to care for her. But she is very worried about her social care package being cut and about her housing. It is causing her anxiety and she doesn’t have the support of her family around her.
Housing benefit per week £101.75
DLA & higher rate for both per week £139.75
Social Care package per week £525
Work sixteen hours a week £200