If you are reading this ,it is probably because you have had the misfortune to be invovled with the DWP and ATOS.
Perhaps you have been refused PIP or ESA ,or had your award revoked.
This will without doubt be your “fault”.Because you have been honest and open and helpful ,if you hadnt DWP would not have had the evidence of your “typical day” or interview to hold against you .It is overwhelmingly the honest ,the less well off and those who are trying to overcome their disabilties who end up loosing PIP .
I would imagine that you are probably not wealthy .For the wealthy and /or those willing to be economical with the truth its not hard to get your benefits renewed . Just have legal advice filling out the paperwork and later to attend the assesment .I dont wish to imply everyone who automatically gets their claims passed lies ,it is my experinece that with an honest ATOS assesor and DWP impartial decision maker it can go smoothly ,But that takes luck both of those are thin on the ground .
Our current system favours the rich and the dishonest,it bases its information on your own description of a typical day and uses the lack of witnesses and the lack of familiarity with its legal requirments to manufactor reasons for refusing you the money to which you are entitled.
It is an established fact many ATOS assesors lie ,omitte evidence or misrepresent it.They only do so where they know it is your word ,or you and your relative or friends word against theirs,turning up with a solictor would I imagine make that unlikely.
The goverment holds us the disabled in nothing but contempt ,it assumes we are stupid and lazy .It also assumes we feel ashamed of having to claim benefits and that ,if pressured we will give up .
What happens to us then ,when robbed by our goverment of what we have paid to recieve ,no one in power really cares.
Yet ,you and I should not be ashamed ,we are not begging or asking for charity ,we are asking the goverment to honour its committments ,it is the goverment who ought to be ashamed .
All our working lives we have paid the goverment ,in Taxes and in national insurance ,money that for decades the goverment has taken off us ,it claimed this was to benefit us in ill health and our old age .Yet like every dishonest insurance company it was happy to take but not to honour its promises, it has renaged on its commitments .We therefore need to hold it to account ,this winnowing out of those who have paid into the state but now need it to pay out started with us,but it has also begun to target those due pensions and those who have children .We are the watchmen on the wall if we do not hold the DWP,ATOS and the goverment to account then its dishonesty and callousness will create a society of which every UK citizen will be ashamed and they will live in fear of illness and old age.
You would not be ashamed of claiming for your house insurance if there was a disaster or your car insurance if there was an accident ,National insurance is by its very name a form of insurance and yours by right.Even if you nolonger pay,your family does, your friends do and though the goverment holds the purse strings ,its those peoples money and no one seriously feels the sick and disabled should be cold and hungry .
Perhaps this is a new experience and you have just fallen into the benefits abyss ,if so you are about to have some fairly depressing suprises.
Perhaps you assume your goverment cares about you ,it does not. Perhaps you assume civil servants and goverment works are all honest and well meaning . While its been my unfailing experience that “front line staff” in Job centers or council offices are kind and understanding and honest ,this isnt everyones experience and my experience of its office staff ,the so called decision makers who decide PIP claims is almost uniformally bad .
You should not assume honesty on the part of DWP employees ,it has been my experience that lying is endemic .Of my current DWP decision makers 3 out of 3 lied .They lied in ways that are impossible to attribute to anything but wilful deceit ,they claimed to have read the ATOS assesors report then manufactored parts of its contents and withled others.They even lied about DWPs own records ,claiming they checked and benefits I claimed to recieve I didnt .
By a strange dicotomy ,they will assume you are dishonest ,but see your honest account of your typical day as stupid because it gives them excuses to stop your claim ,they assume like all the habitually dishonest that telling the truth when it is going to be used against you is not proof of intergrity but of stupidy .
Nor should you assume they have any decency or compassion ,they are not interested in how ill you are ,or in fairness or natural justice.They have no medical training ,they are trained solely to asses if the goverment can refuse to pay you .They will go through your files ,write a few lines refusing your claim ,then go off to lunch to laugh and joke with friends ,they travel home ,spend time with their families and sleep well at night and wake up warm with full stomachs ,ready go to work the next day ready to ruin more lives.
Medical evidence is essential to get to the stage of being assesed and having it gives DWP less excuse not to pay you ,but DWP makes clear to its decision makers that they can ignore all and any medical evidence if their decision makers “opinions” differ from the doctors .Its speciffically targets your GPs as sources of evidence that should be ignored whenever possible.
Do not assume input from consultants or GPs ,nurses ,etc will ensure your claim succeeds.
DWP told my MP that it didnt matter if I was disabled ,but only if my disabilty affected my life.What they didnt say was that a DWP decision maker with no medical training decides the impact on my life .”based on the balance of probabilities”
DWP mislead people into gathering more and more medical evidence and will try to discredit it where possible,for the most banal reasons ,for example they asked one of my fit notes be ignored because I was “new to the surgery ” (,,I had been there 11 months.But what is far more important than medical evidence is that you gather multi source positive proof of the impact of your disabilties on your daily life.If you are going to a tribunal you should also gather evidence of your character and to safe guard any existing points.DWP specifically wrote that it wanted the tribunal to uphold its award of no points in certain areas and to reasses wether I deserved the points it had awarded me.
Do not go to a tribunal assuming you dont need evidence for your existing points.There are very few examples of tribunals removing points awarded by DWP but I would imagine in those cases it was because the claiment didnt realise it would need evidence to support existing points.
Its also essential you keep records of absolutly everything ,DWP lie ,assume they will lie about everything and you will need to produce evidence of even the most obviouse things.
On the day of my assesment I couldnt have anyone present ,but if you can you should and ideally an independent advocate or solictor etc.I dont know if it would have helped but if I had savings I would have paid to have a witness present .Its not probably cost effective if you only get a basic award,but if you have the full award and a car etc that needs the PIP award it might be a worthwile investment .
I took photographs on the day of how I looked minutes before the assesor arrived ,of the evidence I had laid out in the room and of the layout of the hall and room .
This was easier because I had a home assesment ,but you can take photos of your appareance ,of any person who has given you a lift,,I guess that would need a selfie ,of your transport and distance to the assesment ,perhaps the friend could record you going up stairs etc ,wheelchair use etc,take one of the assesment centers frontage ,stairs etc.
I am not sure of the current legal position but I think its still possible to apply to have the asesment taped.
Even if you do ,still take photos ,use a digital camera etc with a time and date stamp ,maybe download them into private online folders so there can be no possible way to claim you took them earlier or later etc.I also took photos of my hands which are badly damaged ,so they could say it was better on the day than I claimed
If the assesor claims as mine did that you look well ,not tired and well dressed but you looked ill and unkempt you have proof ,This discredits the very basics and helps discredit the report ,while you might not be able to prove you cried in the assesment or couldnt do certain excerises that the assesor claims you could easily perform,if you can prove the report is lying in some parts its more likely you will be believed about other parts you dispute.
DWP habitually seem to “loose” letters and paperwork ,my decision makers claimed to have no records of several things they had been sent .But I had proof.
Take photos of every letter you recieve and every letter you send,try to get your own letters signed by a witness to prove you sent them and the number of pages you sent etc .
Never post anything by normal post ,send it signed for and ideally tracked ,the only letter I sent normal post ,though I got proof of postage ,was never replied to .
DWP often “mislay” correspondence .When some things such as the appeal to a tribunal have time limits ,claiming ot have not recieved something can mean your claim is written off and you have no proof to show you tried to appeal.The responsibilty to ensure your paperwork is present and correct lies with you and just doing things right wont help if you cant prove you did.
Record the times of any phone calls ,you cant legally record calls ,but I took photographs of my phone connecting to DWP ,I dont know if this would be seen as proof but it would make it harder to deny I called.
Be as brief as possible over the telephone ,tell them you want everything done on paper ,,I had an excuse because I live without a landline.The DWP will try to limit what you request is reassesed ,say you want everything reassesed and also that your still gathering evidence but dont be specific.Try to get your ATOS assesment report,I had all my requests ignored .But the important thing is that you need things on paper DWP cannot be trusted .
My own experience
I have had three assesments by ATOS ,one in 2016 and that was a fair and honest assesment with a helpful and truthful ATOS assesor .I was awarded PIP for 2 years ,because I have flucating conditions and because I have chronic degenerative conditions .
Since them my health has worsened.
I had an ESA assesment in 2016 ,this was an altogether different experience.The assesor was polite and seemed understanding ,but clearly had absolutly no idea about some of my health isssues,for instance she openly said she had no idea what my form of Epilpesy was and she would look it up afterwards,(in light of what she wrote on her assesment I can only assume she typed in something completly different) .She asked when I “strapped on my shin splint” .(this is not an aid its a condition).She also didnt seem to know where the sacro illyac joint is or what it does ,she assumed it only involved typical back movments ,such as forward bending .She had no idea what some aspects of my hand problems meant and misrepresented my fleeing domestic voilence ,she claimed I said I was “a bit stressed as I am moving house”.
Her report contained lies so blatent that DWP overturned it at their own mandatory review ,when I asked for their paperwork part of the DWP decision makers report started using someone elses name part way through it and seemed likely to be describing someone elses condition .I suspect this was also why it was overturned .I had to appeal to a tribunal to see my full DWP paperwork ,this seems to be standard ,I didnt see my recent ATOS assesors report until I appealed to a tribunal .I only got an inkling that my recent PIP award had been based on lies by DWP when I complained to ATOS and discovered the ATOS assesor had infact recorded things in her report DWP denied existed .
I am fairly certain that despite factual errors and mistakes and misinterpation of some aspects of my health problems had my ATOS assesors report been honestly assessed by the decision makers I would never have lost PIP it was sufficient for at least basic level award and probably for the full awards,I think this is clear by their need to lie about its contents and to repeatedly lie even to the tribunal .I assumed ATOS lied ,but actually most lies were told by DWP.
I therefore urge everyone to complain about everything with which they are unhappy,otherwise you not only have no evidence you disagree with DWP and /or ATOS but you cant be certain of who is lying .In my case I complained to ATOS that my assesor had lied and had omitted information ,their response gave me evidence to use against DWP because it clearly showed DWP to be lying.
I took photos of letters I sent ,of evidence I sent and in the paperwork sent to the tribunal its clear that though DWP recorded recieving things sent by registered post ,they were vague about what some letters contained where the contents would affect their claims /lies.SO you need photos or a witness.
For example I sent actual medication ,not advisable but as its prescritpion only possesion of it proves both medical input and that I was infact prescribed and took the medication concerned
This was only recorded on DWP paperwork as medication.
because they had used lack of the medication I sent to disallow points .Admtting I had therfore been both prescribed it and took it would have been detrimental to DWP claims.
Its also a little known fact that DWP have an internal compensation scheme to recompense those who have suffered due to its “maladministration “It claims it will make good any losses due to you loosing benefit ,that it will cover expenses invovled ,,postage ,charges for medical evidence etc.There also a statment that it will consider personal distress and any worsening of your condition.Therefore its essential you gather evidence of any expenditure ,get receipts ,keep tickets etc .Futhermore document any physical hardships and if your health has suffered record this too .Record the dates of any medical appointments etc
I am personally looking at ways to legally hold to account my decision makers as they have clearly broken the law in several areas and I will post on how this goes.
After all if an ordinary person had lied to court about another person in order to discredit them it would be a crime .I dont see why DWP should be any different .
I intend to try to claim compensation and urge anyone who has wrongfuly been denied benefits to do so ,even if its only your postage etc costs,because at the moment DWP looses nothing by witholding your rightful benefits especially if it reinstates them at mandatory review.Its cost it nothing ot keep your money ,its earned interest on it and removing you from your benefits goes on goverment figures on getting the disabled off benefits.
Claiming compensation and making public your claim puts the DWP out of pocket and it also needs to amend its statisics .Only succesful maladminsitration cases are recorded ,but they are all recorded ,amounts under £50 might well be automatically approved ,under £500 are also more likely to be settled quickly but larger claims have been succesful .Claim whatever your able ,even if its just your postage etc ,if you are awarded anything however small it is another black mark against DWP and it also leaves them and not you out of pocket .Only when it costs DWP more to withold it than pay what is rightfuly ours will policy change.Many people give up and dont appeal ,more people give up at mandatory review level ,some die,some comitte suicide or end up homeless ,most suffer depression and hardship ,we owe it to those to make the goverment accountable .
If you feel uncomfortable taking money then donate it to a food bank or to a charity that helps the disabled deal with PIP etc appeals.The chances of winning a tribunal increase to almost 100 percent if you can be legally represented.
When you win your tribunal dont wait for DWP to decide to restart your payments ,they take upto 8 weeks ,legally they are allowed several weeks to ask the tribunal for a statment of its decision and then 4 weeks to decide if to appeal ,as appeals are only possible if theres been an error in law and DWP staff not rarely attend tribunals DWP are very unlikely to have any chance of an appeal .Yet they delay your payments as long as possible.As they stopped them pretty fast taking 6 to 8 weeks to reinstate them isnt acceptable.I have written to DWP informing them that I am suffering severe hardship,that its due to clear maladministration by their staff ,that I had informed DWP prior to the tribunal and been ignored so I now expect a prompt resolution and to have my payments reinstated and back pay paid .I also mentioned the names of my decision makers and that I was going to pursue a claim of maladminstration so every delay would make the DWP more liable.
I dont know if this will be succesful ,but at the very least DWP cant now claim ignorance of my hardship or my complaints or the tribunal decision
“settling out of court ”
It is becoming increasingly common for DWP to phone claiments just before tribunals to offer them an award either their orginal pip back ,or their new claim approved .It is hard after months of harship to ignore this ,after all it normally comes with a promise of immediate reinstatment .Whereas a tribunal is some time off and uncertain and DWP can delay 8 weeks before giving you money again.It is likely I feel that if DWP have approached you they know your going to be succesful at the tribunal .based on their history I would guess they award you less than your due ,or maybe a nearer review date.Even if your satisifed I would personally have found it untenable to have given up my tribunal hearing ,despite deep distress my tribunal win will have to be recorded and add to the statisics on cases DWP have lost,these give hope to those still suffering and are becoming an increasing source of embarrasment for the goverment.The DWP know this and having starved the disabled into submisson relay on offering a quick fix to make you give up and go away .
The expect us to be pathetically grateful to be awarded what we are entitlted to ,or so worn down by the “hostile enviroment ” created to deny us help that we will take our hard won benefits perhaps spend out back pay to pay off debts and treat ourselves to decent food and warmth and forget that DWP have lied and cheated and humilated us.
Well we shouldnt ,we should hold them to account ,if you have won your appeals you are in the right and DWP were in the wrong .You now have power over them ,you also have power to help those still suffering
Make more complaints about all those invovled by name .Make the decision makers names known on line .Make your case known ,the media are unlikely to be interested lits become accepted that DWP lie ,but there are online social media option and there are blogs and forums .These decsion makers hide in the shadows and think they can lie with impunity .Let their friends and family and potential other employers see what they really are,that theuy are untrustworthy callous and perhaps liars.This is something that anyone who has any form of contact with them should know .
Do not lie ,only produce their own reports ,libel and slander laws are strict ,but there is no law that says you cant produce online information sent to you by DWP .
This also puts in the public domain information that might otherwise need journalists to get a freedom of information request
Futhermore its required that DWP and ATOS investigate complaints ,they will be logged and you should not be fobbed off by their responses but insist on futher investitions .they are legally required to take these seriously.Complain to ATOS is your assesor is at fault and complain to the assesors governing bodies.The medical proffesions are slow to put their house in order and letting slide offences by ATOS assesors that if they had been comitted within hospitals ,GP surgeries or other offical areas would have got the assesors at the very least repmained and possibly sacked.
I cannot offer you any personal advice on how to spend this ,perhaps you have debts ,I have a few but I will still have some back pay left over
I am going to use this it make myself as independent of DWP control as possible
I will pay the bills its possible to pay in advance as far in advance as possible ,then put the money that would have gone out in DD or Standing orders into a savings account ,I will pay each year or quater in advance .This will mean that when DWP next decide to withold my PIP etc I can cover my essentials for at least a few weeks while theres a review .
I live somewhere with a shed so its possible to store gas ,so I bought a large calor gas heater and I have a gas cooker and a gas camping stove, (one of those that come in a plastic case,,not the free standing ones )I intend to buy 3 heating gas cylinder and 2 cooking gas ones and at least a dozen camping stove ones .The camping stove is a seriouse risk for me so its only my absolute last resort.
Its not a viable option to use calor gas as you only room heater for any length of time ,it makes an incredible amount of water and things quickly get damp even bedding and clothing .But to get warm when you wake up ,for a hour or so during the day if you want a bath and a few minutes before you go to bed its a decent way to avoid hyperthemia.It cant be used in bedrooms or without ventilation and the cylinders are heavy you will need someone to bring them in and change them ,though this should only be every month or two . If you have a heater or two heaters you can at least be sure of being able to get warm if you have had to go outside and got cold and wet and as a way to start your day warm ,get washed and dressed in a warm room and have breakfast warm .
I used to have an electrity metre and cooker ,without money I couldnt cook ,not even make a hot drink ,so a calor gas stove was another essential.
If you have an electricty meter ,consider filling it up and then just topping it up weekely as you would normally .
I hope to pay my landline ,internet and mobile bills upfront.
I also intend to stock up on dried goods,pasta and rice and especially cous cous and noodles as both these take minutes to cook or reheat so if your economising on fuel they are a huge help
Dried lentiles ,beans ,peas and barley etc,some of this I really dont like but they cost about £1 a bag and are the only realy viable way to store protein foods
Tins of baked beans, peas, other beans such as kidney beans or chickpea,tinned fruit,tinned vegetables,tinned potatoes (pretty vile but theres ways to cook them that are not too bad)Also bottled fruit and jams
Sauces such as soy sauce ,which with noodles makes a basic if unexciting meal for about 20 p
Mango chunty which will make a much nicer noodle meal
seasame oil ,,again for the noodles
cranberry and /or redcurrent or apples sauces ,for flavouring stews and for vitamins ,however few
These are all a few pence.
With some fresh veg grown in your garden these will give you a fairly decent diet ,not very exicting and it will need rationing ,but it will give you at least one meal a day when you feel full and some basic vitamins and minerals and protein.
In addition I make soups and unlevened bread so
stock cubes and dried herbs are useful
soups are easy ,they are ,a veg of some kind,broccoli ,or carrots ,or even a packet of passatta ,to which you add a sotck cube ,salt ,pepper and an oinion ..then whatever flavouring is in the soups title,basil ,for basil and tomaotoe ,fresh corainder from a supermarket bought plant for carriot and corriander ,leeks for potato and leek ,cheese for broccoli and cheese ,You boil it all up ,liquidise it and voila soup.
Butternut squash soup is very filling and if you grow pumpkins you can make it from those and have a wonderful filling soup twice a week ,
Lentile soup is also incredibly filling and just as easy
I eat these with unlevened bread,which is bascially ,flour salt and a bit of water to make bread like consistency that I then fry in olive oil,this costs at most a penny ,its quick and eaten wamr its quite pleasant .The olive oil or a nice oil is fairly essential because what your basically eating is flour and water so if its going to taste edible it needs to taste of something
I make sweet unlevened bread the same way but with white Self raising flour and sugar rather than salt,I sometimes put some sultanas in it.These I fry with butter .
A meal of lentile soup ,unlevened bread and sweet unelvened bread is filling for much less than 50 p including the fuel and washing up etc.
I will make myself as independent and self sufficient for food as possible .I am lucky and while I cant grip and have other physical problems I can still get about the house and garden .
I have had fruit bushes for birthday etc prsents and I intend to buy more ,lots more,things like Blackcurrents ,blackberries,raspberrys ,red currents etc need virtually no gardening experience and no heavy work or bending down ,you just go to the bushes and pick the fruit ,blackcurrents especially are extreemly good for you and very productive ,in two or three years you will have far more than you can eat and maybe let people pick them in return for picking yours too or doing some light gardening .
Strawberries are another cheap and quick cropping plants ,you can put these in special strawberry planters or raised beds or higher flower beds so you dont need to bend down ,or if you have children ,grandchildren or people willing to pick them you can plants dozens ,even just in a lawn or in a few feet of space in a tall pot .
Both Strawberries and Raspberries come in different varieties that produce fruit earlier or later so you can have several months of fruit .Theres also yellow rapsberries and white strawberries that have slightly different tastes
Gooseberries are worth planting as they are an inbetween crop ,fairly compact and quite prickly they are a good hedge.These also come in different colours with different cropping times
Blackberries often grow wild ,even in suburbs .but you can buy plants that are thornless and blackberries are another very healthy fruit .
None of these need much care except watering the first few weeks they are planted,though they will produce better with some feeding its not essential .
Rhubbarb is space consuming so its not feasible without a garden or at least as space you can put a very big planter in ,,bath sized .But it produces “fruit” when nothing else is fruiting ,it also grows easily and doesnt need much effort you just pull stems out.
Though if you buy any of these bare rooted or as canes you are advised not to let them produce fruit the first year and limit crops the second ,pot grown plants transplanted will produce fruit after a year .Then you can always have fresh fruit and the accompanying vitamins .
If you have a garden you can plant lots ,but even planters can provide a few servings of fruit each week .
For the first months of 2019 I had no fresh fruit .I had my first strawberry for almost 12 months last week.So it doesnt take much to improve that .
If you have a big enough garden and a friend to plant them or you have big enough containers and buy dwarf versions you can plant some fruit trees ,these wont fruit well for a couple of years ,but then you will have regular apples or pears or even peaches ,though peaches need southern conditions and winter protection .
Figs in theory will grow outside ,but I intend to buy one for inside ,if you have a sunny porch or conservatory you can grow figs as easily as any other house plant .
I know some people who have grown citruis fruits and several with indoor grape vines ,though how producitive they are or how edible the fruits I dont know,but they look pretty.
I also bought herbs ,rosemary ,thyme,chives and mints grow fine outside and need no help .I havent had much success but I know many people very easily grow coriander and basil from seed regulary .I also bought plants that produce flowers for the house,mostly ,hardy geranuims and I plan to buy shasta daisys .I sowed Marigolds that will self seed.I will also plant daffodiles and crocus ,
These dont help your diet much but will cheer you up and keeping from becoming depressed is a key element in surviving while you reclaim PIP.
I also bought seeds ,this doesnt need to be a repeated expensse in most cases its easy to save seeds from your plants for next year ,especially for peas and beans all you have to do is leave some on a plant until they dry ,put them to dry a bit longer then store them somewhere dry .
Broad beans are incredibly easy to grow,stick some beans in a planter and water them sometimes .Peas more or less as easy though taller ones need canes you can buy dwarf peas.Only buy mangetout or sugar snap ,theres no really point growing peas for eating as peas because frozen peas are so cheap and have most of the same vitamins.
French beans I havent had much success with as they need a bit warmer temperatures but lots of people grow them
all these cost at most £1 a packet for two years seeds.
These are good sources of protein and need very little physical effort.
Tomatoes,you can buy these as shop bought plants fairly cheaply and have fresh tomatoes all summer and into autumn if you bring the plants indoors, I have reproduced tomoatoes from breaking bits of branches and sticking them in compost ,but I havent yet had a chance to see how these crop .But tomatoes can be grown from seed for pennies and come in different colours and sizes you can often buy mixes ,They need putting in pots to spout but once you put them in a grow bag except for watering they dont need much effort ,you can grow courgets the same way ,cucumbers are fussier.Pumpkins are incredible easy to grow ,they take up a huge amount of space so are only really an option with a garden but the pumpkins or any other “winter Squash” will store over winter and give you filling food.
I am also growing potatoes ,several unsual ones in different colours and some peruvian ones, the peruvian ones take 1/3 less time to cook ,which when fuel is being rationed is a major saving .These need ground and a willing helper ,but you can also grow them in special potatoe bags .Reuse the compost from grow bags used for other plants and add some new .Again you can save some potatoes to use as seed next year .Potatoes come in different kinds,some early crop are normally grown for “new potatoes ” or salad potatoes ,but you can eat them as normal potatoes .Main crop are the ones most likely to store well and over winter but take longer to grow.You can buy seed potatoes from poundland and £5 will be enough to produce enough potatoes for late summer and autum.Each seed potato produces at least 5 other eating potatoes and many will produce 10 potatoes .You can very easily be self sufficient for filling foods .
I bought different coloured ones because I eat a lot of potatoes and wanted variety ,but coloured ones are also healthier ,most loose their colour on cooking but many keep it if you make chips pr roast potatoes
If your depressed gardening for just a few minutes a day helps and taking some of your food production into your own hands will give you a sense of purpose and control .
If possible I hope to stock up on tea and coffee and salt and pepper
dried and uht milk and vinegar to make pickles
save all my jars and buy red cabbage ,beetroot and other veg in the reduced isle to pickle, its very easy ,mostly if its cooked beetroot ,you just dry it chop it up and put it in vinegar ,red cabbage you slice sprinkle with salt ,leave overnight ,wash ,dry and put in vinegar.You can pickle oinions ,peppers even eggs
I also intend to stock up on cleaning stuffs ,on toilet rolls,pet food ,shampoo,toothpaste etc light bulbs and first aid supplies and also on items that I can potentially sell if I end up without money again.I nolonger buy furniture if I dont think I can resell it ,even at a loss so I can buy food .
Stock up on warm bedding ,mattress toppers, flannel sheets ,extra duvets and a thick warm rug for next to the bed or where you put your feet to sit or stand in the living room and kitchen ,sheepskins are ideal but rag rugs are cheap off ebay £6 or so and will do ok .Your feet and hands are what get cold the quickest so limiting heat loss is essential ,I buy expensive thermal socks for bed and fingerless mittens and in the house I normally wear those and a hat with ear flaps
Buy warm clothing in natural fibres which are warmer ,but not cotton which isnt very good for retaining heat .for next to your skin silk is ideal and often charity shoup pound rails have silk blouses etc ,because unironed silk looks pathetic and so it doesnt sell .Wool and especially merino wool is also good ,I wear merino wool tights .Cashmere is even better and because its a luxury fabric its usually possible to buy cheap cashmere jumpers on ebay if they have stains or worn bits or moth holes .I cut them up to make a vest from the body then socks and gloves from the arms ,I cant sew to hem them now but unlike woold cashmere doesnt fray and unravel.Jut cut the arms off the body part and cut each arm into two halfs ,a longer half and a shorter half ,the long one is for socks and the other for mittens ,the mittens ideally need sewing into a tube that fits flush with your hands ,theres instruction on my blog in the costume accessories post on how to make them and making a coif or peasant hat is handy to sleep in and just needs a few scraps and half an hour .
Check pound rails at charity shops or check ebay regulary and try to build up stocks of
cashmere ,silk ,merino wool and wool and linen clothes,linen is better than cotton I wear linen summer lesiure trousers in bed instead of normal pyjama bottoms .Linen also creases badly and theres often linen clothes on charity shop pound rails