‘My wife will be in hospital at Xmas – I’m glad because it will keep costs down’
A bloke withered by the effect of the cost of living crisis has admitted that he is glad his wife will be in hospital over Christmas, because it will keep costs down.
It comes as new research by the national disability charity Sense highlights the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on disabled people, with many set to go without Christmas presents, festive food or even meeting friends or family.
Keith Butler, 72, and his partner Helen Butler, 64, live in Redditch, Worcestershire, and care full time for their 22-year-old son Geordie who has CHARGE syndrome, is deafblind and autistic.
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Caring for Geordie has a severe impact on their already tight finances, and Keith made the extraordinarily honest admission that with Helen set to be getting care in hospital over the Christmas period, this will relief some of the financial stress on the household.
Keith said: “Helen is going into hospital on December 19 for an operation. I don’t want to seem callous, but she will be in for weeks and that will save us money over the most expensive time of the year. Geordie and I will spend the whole period by ourselves for the first time ever.
“We have scaled back everything we can, except for Geordie who doesn’t understand Santa has a budget. His three older siblings will only have a token gift, and likewise our six grandchildren.”
Their income, made up of Keith’s pension and Geordie’s Universal Credit, is limited and they face spiralling costs. The biggest is energy, with additional use related to Geordie’s needs, including his feeding pump and electric bed to help him lie down.
Other costs include transport. Geordie recently completed his education, meaning his transport is no longer subsidised and his parents pay £2,250 a year to get him to day services at Sense Touchbase Pears in Birmingham.
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When Geordie was 17 months old, Keith and Helen were asked to foster him as he had never been out of hospital and give him a Christmas at home.
By the end of the festive period, Keith knew he wasn’t giving Geordie back and, having “found his purpose in life”, took early retirement from his engineering career, aged 51, to care for him. Some 18 months on, the couple adopted Geordie.
For Keith, the best way for the government to help families like his, is to introduce a social energy tariff to help households struggling to pay their energy bills.
He said: “What we really need is a social tariff, and lots of people like Martin Lewis have been campaigning for this for years but absolutely no progress has been made.
"I understand it may be complex to resolve, but it can’t be kicked into the long grass anymore. My family and others need it right now. We can’t wait another winter.”
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