The cost of living crisis is driving us into debt

Claire Taylor, 57, has a degenerative disc disease, foraminal spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, bradycardia and anxiety. She was a dance teacher for 30 years. She lives in Northumberland with her partner.

I haven’t been able to work since 2020, when my condition worsened. My partner also had to give up work to become my full-time carer. It was a big shock to adjust, but before the cost of living crisis, we were doing well. 

We used to pay off our credit card straight away every month. Now, we’re having to rely on it to live. I’m up to £2,000 on it.

We’re going into debt. It’s terrible. 

We’ve had to cut back on everything 

The cost of living crisis is impacting us on a daily basis. It’s really scary. We’ve had to make a lot of cuts.

The cost of food, petrol, gas and electricity have rocketed. Our food shop is going up by at least £20-30 every week, even though we’re buying the same things. 

We’re also struggling with the price of petrol. We deliberately bought a car that is economical and used to be able to fill it up for £60. Now it’s £100. My Mum is in a care home and now I have to get the train to visit her, which is about £87. Otherwise it would cost £200 in the car.  

We used to go out and just do normal things. Like going for a drink at the pub, or going for a Sunday roast. We can’t do any of this anymore unless someone else pays. 

We used to go on holiday once a year, too. Now, the chances of that are completely remote. So we’re just not getting a break. 

The cuts are affecting my physical and mental health

For me, keeping my muscles relaxed is so important for my overall health. I have a degenerative spinal condition which means that my muscles can tense up easily and cause me pain. 

“You’d hope to get the support you need when you’re too ill to work. But this really isn’t the case. It doesn’t seem fair.”

Claire Taylor

If I don’t keep the muscles relaxed then it can harm other muscles. When this happens I can be out of action for two weeks. I can’t walk, wash or do anything and am in a lot of discomfort.  

I used to have a bath three times a week to help relax my muscles. Now it’s costing too much so I just wash in the sink if I’m not going out, to cut down on costs.

I also used to have a massage once a month to help with the pain and relax my muscles. It cost me £60 and we simply can’t afford it anymore.  

I’m in a really low mood at the moment and don’t have the confidence to leave the house on my own. I can’t go out and about like I used to.  

It’s not just me who’s struggling. My partner cares for both me and his mum who’s 88. He hasn’t had a break for years.  

The government needs to increase disability benefits in line with inflation

It’s inhumane how disabled people are treated. 

I know we’re actually better off than a lot of people in this situation. Still, you’d hope to get the support you need when you’re too ill to work. But this really isn’t the case. It doesn’t seem fair.   

We need reform of the benefits system so that it’s in line with inflation.  

I also think the government needs to review the assessment process for support. People are waiting for as long as two years just to get an assessment – how are they supposed to cope in this time?

Many disabled people are so low in mood that they don’t have the energy to fight for themselves – what are they supposed to do?  

Demand more support for disabled people

During the cost of living crisis, we’re calling on the government for:

  • A benefits system that meets disabled people’s needs.
  • More financial support for higher energy costs.
  • Targeted support for disabled people and their families.

Will you join us?