I am… not fit for work
Martin Green on being deemed unfit for work
I have been assessed as ‘not fit for work’, so I don’t have to job search. I have a degenerative spine condition. I don’t get any extra payments for travel to hospital or doctors’ appointments, or anything like that. I have some good days, where I can move around, but movement still causes pins and needles, and pains in my neck and arms. I also suffer from anxiety and depression.
I get £892 a month for me and my son, who’s 17. It would be £1,092, but I have deductions coming out for debts. When I started on universal credit, I had a five-week wait, so I had to take an advance of £400 and pay it back at £33.75 a month. When I was on jobseeker’s allowance, I was paid fortnightly and was able to manage money a lot better than I do now that I’m paid monthly.
The amount I get paid in benefits is never enough. In a good month, I can go food shopping but there’s never anything extra left over. If I need a new pair of shoes for example, I need to take money off what I have for food.
Usually, I have £60 a fortnight for food, for me and my son. I just snack; I don’t eat proper meals. I sometimes go all day without eating. If my lad is out with his mates, I will sometimes not eat. If I can keep food in the cupboard a bit longer, that’s another day of survival…
Martin Green attends Elim Church in Halifax, West Yorkshire
This is an extract from an article that was published in the November 2019 edition of Reform