The unkindest cut – real life stories

At the end of our recent article The unkindest cut of all by Ginny Smith we invited Sussex Bylines readers to share their personal experiences of how the government’s planned Universal Credit cut will affect them. We have already received some responses that make for sobering – and in some cases, heartbreaking – reading. We will publish all the letters we receive, updating whenever we get a new letter, with the most recent on top. Where people have asked to remain anonymous, names and identifiers have been withheld. We would like to thank everyone who has chosen to bravely share their real life stories in the hope of shedding light on the devastation this cruel cut will cause to millions of Britons, including care workers and over three million children…

Tories Foodbank Soup cans mural in London by artist Georgie
Above: London street art by Georgie – “Cream of Foodbank Soup” by aestheticsofcrisis is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The government are waiting for me to die

“I am 63 and a half years old. 

I am also disabled – I have 11 different ongoing progressive diseases, including COPD, Osteoarthritis, and PTSD, all confirmed in writing by my GP.  I worked for 49 years and paid FULL National Insurance for 45 of those years. I worked in Community and Social Care for all of those years, part of that time caring for severely injured veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“I was medically retired earlier this year with no pension, as I am a female and therefore not now entitled until I am 66, so I have had to claim Universal Credit (UC). I have used all my savings to pay bills as I am on basic UC, and am still waiting after seven tortuous, distressing months for a Work Capability Assessment, despite sending forms in (and I have had them confirmed as received by the DWP, including extensive medical documents, on 5 March this year).

“I have to talk to a work coach every month 🤷🏼‍♀️ . I have contacted the MP Justin Tomlinson, who’s the Minister in charge of Disabled People, Work and Health, and have also written to the parliamentary Work and Pensions committee. I have received no response from either.

“I have begged for a WCA (Work Capability Assessment) in my UC journal. I have been ignored.  When the uplift is removed I will not have enough money to buy food or heat my home. I will have to limit the heating; I don’t know how I will eat. A food bank I suppose for a small amount of basic food. I will struggle just to pay my utility bills.

“After years of selfless service to the community, of paying taxes, of paying National Insurance, my pension stolen with no notice (I am also a WASPI) I am afforded no dignity.  I am thrown on the scrap heap. I am worthless. The government are waiting for me to die of starvation or hypothermia or both. ”

Disabled, “medically retired” (yet without access to her pension) 63-year-old community & social care worker from West Sussex, September 11, 2021


For every £1 I earn, 60p is taken off…

“I’m on Universal Credit due to the fact that I have a very low paid job: care work! That means despite working often 12-hour days I still don’t earn enough to pay bills and eat each week.

“This extra £20 has been a great help. However, with rising bills, food and cost of living, it worries me what this next year will be like.

“For every £1 I earn, 60p is taken off. That means that I don’t even see any overtime I do, as it just comes out of the top-up. So if I’m £200 short one month, even if I work the extra hours, I don’t see it.

“It’s frustrating. I just wish the minimum wage actually reflected the real cost of living, and therefore maybe I could come off Universal Credit and support myself.”

Care worker from Newhaven, East Sussex, September 10 2021

Woman looking at The Trussell Trust's "Keep the lifeline" petition on her smart phone
Above: “Keep The Lifeline” campaign from anti-hunger British charity The Trussell Trust

If you would like to share your personal story of how the government’s planned Universal Credit “uplift” cut will affect you and/or your loved ones, or about any other related matter, please write to us at: editor@sussexbylines.co.uk

Follow @SussexBylines on social media