Disabled man forced to sell deceased wife’s belongings to fight cost of living

A disabled man said in recent years he had been forced to sell his late wife’s belongings to cover living expenses.

The PA news agency has reached out to those hardest hit by the cost of living crisis, including Jason Alcock, 51, of Stoke-on-Trent, who has autism, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Mr Alcock’s wife, Paola, died in 2018 after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and his disability makes it difficult for him to leave the house and get along with others.

Instead, he uses technology, including virtual reality, to communicate from his home, but the costs of running his home are rising and his income comes from Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and a heavy disability allowance. , that has proven to be a challenge.

Mr Alcock said he should be eligible for the £800 aid that Rishi Sunak announced in May, saying: “it’s a plaster on a gaping chest wound, but at least it’s something that’s going to help this year.” .”

Jason Alcock said he's 'locked off most of the house' to keep track of living expenses
Jason Alcock uses technology, such as virtual reality, to communicate with others (Jason Alcock)

“It has made my life more difficult. Being disabled and dealing with all this… no disabled person ever gets a free ride.

“A handicap is better than nothing. But we actually always live close to or below poverty. Disability was always meant to be something that enabled us not only to survive, but also to live.

“For me, doing something is more expensive. I can’t go to the local store and get a loaf of bread. I can’t leave my house.

“If I want to order a loaf of bread I have to do a shop for at least £40. So I have to budget for that. So prices and everything really affects us. It made everything more difficult for us.”

When did you first notice that costs were increasing, and by how much did they increase?

“As soon as Covid hit and we went into lockdown. For example, I always had to order food, but Tesco’s delivery went from £1.50 to £4.50. I spent £20 a week on food but when I did my shopping there was a huge amount used up by the delivery amount.

“I looked at my old shopping list from 2019. The staple food for me was 17p for 500 grams of spaghetti. A can of beans cost about 20 pence and tuna 40 pence, so for less than a pound you could easily eat a day.

“The same pasta now costs 80 pence, the beans cost 40 pence and the tuna 80 pence.

“(It was) £45 for electricity at the start in 2019 and £30 for gas – so £75 in total per month for gas and electricity. Now my electricity is £116 and my gas is £70.”

What changes have you made to cope?

“I found out I’ve been selling £8,000 worth of stuff for the past three years just to survive.

“Paola had a Star Wars collection, she tinkered a lot. All that stuff, her old phones and tablets and all that stuff, it’s all been sold.

“Many of the things I would have liked to keep – they meant something to me – have all been sold. I’m now at the point where I have nothing left to sell.”

How did this situation make you feel?

“Concerned about the future as prices are still going up and they say electricity (may) go up in price again in October.

“It’s scary to know that there may come a time when I end up in the hospital because I can’t do the things that keep me safe every day.”

What do you hope is being done to help you?

“What we really need is an overhaul of the disability system, to bring it in line with the cost of living, because it’s not.

“Since (Paola died) not a month has gone by where I haven’t had to upgrade my money by selling something in the house. I shouldn’t be doing that.”

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