Tag Archives: benefits

The More You Tell Us We Can’t, The More We Just Might

I don’t know how you guys are doing, but life under our present government is an anxiety-inducing experience of hell for me.

A weird, subversive world where right is wrong and wrong is worse, way worse than you could ever imagine.

And a world where MS is magically reversible because a former A&E nurse says so, after ‘observing’ you for half an hour.

MS. The illness they can’t even find a test for, far less a cure.

Cast your mind back to the last General Election – all those earnest politicians vying for your vote; the couple, the couple with 2.5 kids, the retired couple, the middle-aged couple. Where were you?

Did you once hear our leaders address the 1 in 5 of us who are disabled? I’m a media junkie and I didn’t hear a thing.

I heard about tax relief (I don’t earn enough), inheritance tax (I don’t have enough), and tax in general (I live at sub-poverty level). I heard about ‘hard-working’ families. About ‘hard-done-by-pensioners’.  Disabled people? Nope.

In fact, I was so annoyed, I responded to a BBC Wales tweet and ended up being interviewed, my absolute pet-hate, but the point had to be made. Not that it made much difference.

Our government was simply not listening to people with disabilities, Let’s be honest, few of us will get through life without some form of ‘disability’, so why be so shy about it?

Truth be told, we are simply not media-worthy, and the whole transition taking place from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments is just another modern tragedy taking place in every single street up and down the country, but is under-reported on a terrible scale.

Want to know a secret?

Should you live long enough (and many, many illnesses are non-age-specific), you too will be disabled! Yep.

I am absolutely fed up with being ignored by politicians unless we are a good excuse for a photo-op. Some of us are in wheelchairs, some of us are not. Weirdly – we are all different.

Is it fair we have to fight just to get a taxi? Just to keep our job?

In my view, there has to be a backlash soon.

And it cannot come soon enough.

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Beggar In Disbelief

beggarThese PIP (Personal Independent Payment) forms really do beggar belief.

I’ve finally finished a first draft to all the questions and I am an utter wreck.

To steal (may as well, nothing to lose) a phrase from Simon Cowell, ‘it’s been an emotional journey.’ But there’s no z-list stardom and a double-page spread in ‘Heat’ magazine at the end of it.

Perhaps ‘traumatic’ would be a more adequate word, because it really is. I’m sure they probably do a similar tactic when you join the SAS; breaking you down until you’re snivelling on the ground. But then! You rise up, invincible, ready to take on the world.

However, in my case, the opposite is true. They’ve broken me down. And that’s it.

I’ve taken a week off work to fill in the forms and because I’ve got a pesky MS flare-up plus a rotten, stinking cold. I’ve got a Rudolph nose, and am running out of tissues and energy.

The more I read, both in the media and in online forums, about people with MS having to go through this unnecessary process yet again the more angry I become. To put it this way, I work, and I receive Working Tax Credit, to allow me to live above the poverty line. I fill in a fairly basic form every year, stating my wages and that’s pretty much it.

However, with PIP forms, to receive additional money to pay for the extra costs attributed to disability (one like MS, as yet incurable and as yet, degenerative) I have to literally bare my soul – and my bottom.

Yep, for those unfamiliar with these forms, there’s a whole section on going to the loo. And another about personal hygiene, i.e. how well you can wash yourself.  Are disabled people really reduced to these facile benchmarks?

A single form to cover every single possible disability ever recorded is ludicrous.

According to Scope, there are 13.3 million disabled people in the UK, all filling in the same form, but all expected to depict their own unique disability experience within it.

Further, you spend £550 a month per average more if you are disabled. Which is the very reason this benefit exists. And for doubters out there, disability benefit fraud is 0.5%. The lowest level of any ‘benefit’.

Makes you wonder how much is siphoned away in tax evasion?

Jus’ sayin’…

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The Peasants Are Revolting

Mark LittlewoodMark Littlewood, Director General for the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank, wrote an inflammatory article for the Mail on Sunday last week, urging the government to publish the names of every benefits claimant and exactly how much they each receive.

He would like a full list on a publicly accessible website for everyone to inspect, as ‘taxpayers have a right to know exactly who is claiming what and how much they are getting…this wouldn’t be ‘naming and shaming’…after all, if you are legally entitled to a particular benefit, what is there to be ashamed about?’

Sticking the knife in, he says that ‘anyone ashamed to claim money from the State maybe shouldn’t be claiming it.’ Mr Littlewood, I claim benefits and yes, I am ashamed to be in that position but what is my alternative to not claiming benefits? Most of them top up my minimum wage. I work, I study, I am bringing up a healthy and happy child but I am also living with a disability. Are you advocating bringing back dark, satanic mills and workhouses for the poor and needy?

Yet again, the most vulnerable and weakest members of society are being put in the village stocks and blamed entirely for this country’s financial woes. So let’s investigate a little further.

Mr Littlewood pleads, ‘I’m simply asking, on behalf of all those who pay for the welfare state, for a bit more information and transparency.’ Strange, that. The IEA is a registered charity. In 2011, Guardian journalist George Monbiot requested their sources of funding. The IEA declined to reveal these. Transparency? Furthermore, the American Friends of the IEA, whose sole purpose is to provide funds for the IEA, has received $215,000 from two secretive funds as of 2010.

Mr Littlewood attempts to fan the flames further by writing, ‘surely no one needs worry about violent retribution against claimants. The British are far too reasonable to start taking up pitchforks and burning torches and assaulting imagined benefits cheats.’

An interesting choice of words – I imagine that’s a scenario he would love to see transpire, which would at least deflect attention from the £89.5 million paid to MP’s in expenses a year, to top up their wages (is ‘expenses’ a posh word for benefits?) and the £1 trillion or so in bankers bailouts over the last five years. Benefit fraud is apparently £5 billion a year. Tax avoidance and evasion? £120 billion a year.

It’s much more fun to pin the blame on those with no voice though, isn’t it, Mr Littlewood?

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