Category Archives: Benefits

Thoughts on a summer evening . . .

I begin to despair that any political party is interested in helping the people of this country who, through no fault of their own, are chronically ill, or disabled.

I totally support Labour’s fight against the tories, but see little in their manifesto to help people in my position – house-bound, mostly bed-bound, without social care, and with a husband who, although he is actually my full-time carer, is also having to cope with his own worsening health problems, with no respite, and only my encouragement keeping him going.

We have become a mutual support system, but our supports are getting more and more unstable, more threadbare, more tenuous, as time goes by and, frankly, the only thing keeping me going up to now, had been the hope that Labour would come into power, become our Government, and start making changes for the better for us all – but I read, recently that, even as a government, they are planning on keeping similar kinds of assessments, or checks and measures, in place to cope with the benefits system, that every other party seems to think is a good thing – measures that every ounce of me rejects with loathing!

I wrote about what happened in late December, 2016 – early January this year, when my Mum died, just as I was facing a changeover from my Indefinite DLA award, to the new PIP – which this government deliberately designed to be as hard as possible to be awarded.

I was fortunate to have passed my assessment – mostly because it’s pretty obvious to any medical professional that I’m never getting better, but also because I had a lot of help from other disabled people, who were able to advise me through this awful process – and I was awarded the new PIP for 10 years, which I’m very grateful for, believe me!

After seeing what hoops my friends are having to jump through, while fighting to retain anything, I’ll never be able to express the relief of actually passing this awful thing. But the award is really not fit for purpose, as  I’ll still have all of the same thing facing me, at a time when I’ll be even more disabled by my health problems, and whenever the government decide that they’d like to put me through it all again – you see, what the government don’t tell the public, is that they can call me back for another assessment whenever it pleases them to!

This means that, even though they have awarded me ten years of financial help, I’ll not know if, or when I’ll have to face the torture of another assessment within that time, and it’s affecting my mental health in a way I never figured it would. Even now, in July, I am still suffering the after-effects of all I was put through, and what I might have to face at any time in the future.

My physical health has worsened to the point that I haven’t even been able to do any of my beloved crochet since the assessment; I’ve been unable to do much of anything physically but, a lot worse for me, my mental health has been, and continues to be, badly affected.

During that whole process of assessment, I was made to feel bad. I was made to feel as though my life was totally and utterly unimportant – a waste of breath, a waste of time, a waste of important resources.

I was asked why I hadn’t killed myself yet and, as a typical British person, I did what we all do, and put a brave face on it, a stiff upper lip, and told the assessor that my husband and daughter are my preventitives – while tears fell down my face at the shock of her question, and at the realisation that I was actually too near to those feelings to want to examine them, let alone talk about them to a total stranger!

My answer was very true, though – but for how long, I can’t honestly say, as I try to heal myself of the wounds given to me, just because I inherited health problems that are slowly getting worse, and have no cure, and so needed financial help to live!

. . . and this has made me so angry!

It’s an anger that just keeps bubbling away inside me, and I find it hard to let go of it, especially when I see ever more draconian rights being allowed to those who govern whether any of us can have financial help, when things go bad in our lives.

I have been using the politics that I got interested in, as a way to get past the bad times in my mental health, and it has helped to a certain extent, as I can use up some of the anger that I feel, about the way we are all being treated, through this blog, and on social media

But, as the days go past, every new law, or refining of the law, seems to be aimed at making the situations of everyone in the country, who needs a helping hand, even worse and, when even nurses – those wonderfully caring men and women who have trained hard, for long years, to keep the people of this country well – have had to turn to food banks to survive, then I truly wonder what we have become as a Nation!

And now the Tories are trying to take away our Human Rights under Law, and put in it’s place a watered-down version that looks good on paper, but will be as strong as a wet tissue, if we try to use it.

I’ve read about, and watched, so many protests over the last year or so – although not on TV or in the papers, as these are all controlled by the very people who have brought in Austerity, to weaken the poor, and strengthen the Rich and powerful – and there are many more being organised for over the summer break of Parliament.

But I wonder if the powerful will sit in the sun, clinking their glasses of champagne, while laughing at us ‘plebs’ as we protest their taking away of all our rights under the law!

I have seen, over these last three to four decades, the way that Thatcher’s government broke the power of the unions – the only thing really protecting the ordinary working man and woman – and then the Neoliberal, New Labour, Blairite, government, and then the Tory government again, totally ignoring the plight of those who are having to go through these so-called health assessments, and who award the companies putting them through these useless, atrocious, offensively degrading trials, as if they were doing something wonderful for the country, instead of being the means of hurting too many thousands of vulnerable people – and to make matters even worse, these companies have cost the UK taxpayers even more to run than they will ever save, financially!

These assessments are where the ill/disabled person is lied about, treated like scum, and then ridiculed; where the painfully written, in-depth, descriptions of their daily lives are able to be read by those who shouldn’t be anywhere near them; where the ill/disabled are mocked, sneered at, laughed at, and vilified by both the – mostly – unqualified people who actually do these assessments; and then by the tory MP’s, who have been filmed doing so in Parliament, while they dismantled the laws that were supposed to defend us; or brokered the laws that will make life more unbearable for us all, and are a hell we are having to endure, in order to survive.

Those people who are too ill to fight the stopping of their only means of support – and in the last 2 years there have been at least 10,000 of them – have ended up being put into the position of either starving, or committing suicide.

Meanwhile, the companies that did this to them are awarded ever larger bonuses, and ever-longer contracts – and I wonder how much longer we will be able to survive, and what happened to the caring society that we were, when I was young, and before Thatcher came into power!

There are things happening to the disabled in this country that goes against everything I was brought up to believe in. Hard-won laws are being repealed, or flouted, and there are now working aged disabled people finding themselve immured into nursing homes, due to the cuts in their support – cuts caused by the government deliberately starving the NHS and Social Services of the money they need to go on.

It took the disabled many decades, and huge protests, to have the protections put into place by law, that meant we could live within our communities, near friends and family, and live our lives the way everyone else is able to – and now this government is slowly taking away everything that was fought so hard for – and using the same lies and excuses, that were used during the second world war, to relieve a certain nation of their disabled peoples.

The only hope I have now, is a Labour government, who will listen to it’s people, and stop this cruel torture; who will give the vulnerable of society a place where they can stand proud, and have a belief in themselves as being worthy people once again.

Is it really too much to ask for?

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Filed under Austerity, Benefits, Carers, Choices, Democracy, Disability, Disability Issues, DLA, Health Issues, Human Rights, Ideology, Mental Health Issues, PIP, Politics, Social Security, Welfare

Jeremy Corbyn on Everything . . .

I’ve not often sat to listen to political videos, but came across one on a post by  Beastrabban.

It’s an interview between Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn, and lasts around 45 minutes but, if you really want to know the thoughts and ideas of Jeremy Corbyn, then you should listen to it, and see what a difference he could make to us all.

Here’s the link to the interview through Owen Jone’s Youtube account, if you want to watch it directly:

Owen Jones Interviews Jeremy Corbyn

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Filed under Benefits, Budgets, Carers, Changes, Disability Issues, Economy, Government Spending, House Prices, Housing Benefits, Human Rights, Media, Politics, Private Sector, Proportional Representation, Welfare

Friday. A bottle of cordial and Gills tin of beans.  

At this time when there are too many people out there who consider a bottle of juice, or even a tin of beans, a luxury, everyone needs to examine what they want in the future, for our society.
Hopefully, a majority will think of the suffering happening every day, here in the UK, before they tick their box on the 8th of June!

The poor side of life

This is somewhat different to the usual weekly blog that I write. I don’t often write about events outside the weekly demo, to be honest I wasn’t sure that my readers would want to read it. But I thought I’d tell you anyway. Some might want to listen.

I was awoken quite early by a crank call, made by someone for reasons known only to themselves. They appeared to find it humorous to make fun of what we do, and the help that we give to people. Some people are very strange, and sadly this isn’t unusual its become par of the course. I don’t take it to heart and I did report it.

You see, in the over 3 1/2 years that I’ve been doing this I have encountered many negative things. Name calling, swearing, being told by G4S that they were going to knock myself and a friend…

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Filed under Austerity, Benefits, Budgets, Choices, Economy, Impoverishment, Politics, Welfare

I, Daniel Blake . . .

Last night I was unable to sleep, because the pain in my body has become unbearable recently, and so I decided to watch a new DVD delivered to me yesterday, in order to get my mind off of the pain for a little while. The DVD is: ‘I, Daniel Blake’.

. . . and now I sit here, many hours later, with red eyes, and cheeks sore from the tears I shed watching it, while trying to put into words what I need to express after seeing it.

I wonder how anyone who has an iota of fellow feeling in them, can watch something like this, and not feel sad, or frustrated, and also totally furious, at our government – and the people they employ – who follow every machiavellian rule they can make up, without thinking of the consequences to the real people they are doing it all to, and I wonder, who can put people through all these kinds of hoops, purely for an ideology that seems to drive them into schemes that are making the poor even poorer – as the rich  get ever richer?

Ken Loach’s film has shown so clearly what is happening every single day here in the UK, and it is happening to too many people innocent of the accusations being thrown at them by their own government, as well as by their many right-wing media outlets.

. . . . and I’m one of those people. I, too, am Daniel Blake and, because of the injustices I saw in the film – while knowing they were just characters playing their parts, I also know they were based on real people going through the same, crazy, soul-destroying, routines – I want to tell you what is happening with me at the moment.

I’ve been worried for a couple of years now, about the changeover this government is making, from DLA to PIP, as I’d heard that so many people on Indefinite awards of DLA, like I am, have lost their benefits completely – including people with terminal cancer, or MS, or Parkinsons!

I have, unfortunately, developed many health problems over my life, which had basically starting from a messed up immune system, brought about by the Thalidomide tablets that my Mum took while she was around 6 months pregnant with me, as it was thought the tablet would ease the terrible morning sickness she continuously felt throughout this pregnancy. The tablets actually made Mum worse, so she didn’t take them as long as she might have but, unfortunately, she took them long enough that they affected the development of my immune system and so, although I was so very fortunate to have been born with all  of my limbs, I have been prone to bouts of ill health for most of my life, and this gradually worsened, to the point that, right now, everything wrong with me is based on a screwed-up immune system, and everything I suffer with is without a cure, and will only get worse, to the point of death – hence the Indefinite award.

I’m basically 100% housebound, and 95% bedbound, and was eventually sent the changeover form from the DWP, which arrived on 23rd December 2016, asking me to fill it in, and to send it back by 16th January, 2017, at the latest. With what I’ve recently learned about the processes put into place with the new PIP, I’ve no hope that I will get the equivalent of my DLA award with this new PIP award, and will be amazed if I’m fortunate enough to get anything at all.

Due to my illnesses, I have great trouble focusing on anything nowadays, let alone long, and very complicated, forms such as this one was. I sleep more than I’m awake, and the strong pain meds I have to take (or end up screaming with pain), leave me unable to formulate thoughts and ideas in the way that I used to be able to do, before my illnesses got as bad as they are now. I struggle a lot to find the words I need, as my short-term memory is badly affected, too, which makes it very difficult for me to be able to express how I feel, or how my ailments affect me, especially if I’m under any kind of stress – me, the calm, unflappable, total wordsmith, who used to read continuously, and delighted in learning something new every day – until my illnesses took all that away 😦

The day after I received the PIP form, the 24th December, 2016, I received news that my Mum was seriously ill in hospital, and wasn’t expected to live.

As you may imagine, this knocked me for six, especially as I’d only lost my Dad the previous year, and had been too ill to be able to travel the 365 miles between us, to go and pay my last respects to him. Anyway, from the moment I was told about Mum, I spent all the time I was able to, keeping in touch with my siblings, and trying to find out how Mum was – while desperately hoping, and praying, that she would rally – as she had done on previous occasions – but, on 1st January, 2017, Mum slipped away in her sleep and, once again, I faced the fact that I wasn’t well enough to be able to travel to say my goodbyes.

In those 10 days, I’d not been well enough to be able to try and even start to fill in the DLA-PIP form. The stress and grief I felt had seriously affected my already appalling health, and I was unable to think, or to understand, anything written in the form. I’d not been able to get hold of anyone at the DWP to explain my situation to, because I’d received the form the day before christmas eve, and so everyone was now on holiday, and there was nobody available locally to help me with the forms.

On 4th January, I finally managed to get somebody at the DWP, and explained my situation, and was given an extention of 14 days, until 30th January, to give me extra time to get the forms filled in.

A few days later, fortunately for me, our daughter came to visit and, over the next few weeks, she helped me with both my grief at losing Mum and, more importantly for my health, she helped me to fill in the forms, which wasn’t easy even with her help, especially as every question asked on the form made me have to face up to everything I had lost of myself, and the life I used to lead, at a time when grief and loss of my Mum was making me so depressed I could barely cope.

I think that, if the questions I was asked had had any real meaning, it might have been a little easier for me to do, but they were so formulaic, so loaded, so unreal to the life I actually have to live, that I couldn’t relate to them at all, and it took four different people to explain to me what the questions were actually trying to lead me to say, before I realised that they weren’t being asked to help me in any way, but I really felt as if they had been written, even designed, to trip me up in some  way – as if I were living a lie, and claiming these benefits unlawfully because, of course, everyone who claims benefits of any sort are lying through their teeth, right? Wrong!

Anyway, with lots of help, the form was filled in, and I stated at the end, written in red, bold, type – in the section asking if there was anything I wanted to tell them, about coming to a face-to-face assessment – that I wished for a Home Assessment, and for this assessment to be recorded. A friend then posted it all off for me, recorded delivery, and I checked online a few days later, and saw that it had been received. I then waited a couple of days, and phoned them up just to check, and reassure myelf, that they had actually got it – they had.

After I sent off the form, I looked through the paperwork again, and saw that, if I wanted a Home Assessment, then I needed a letter from my doctor, to prove that I was ill enough to need this!

I was fortunate that my Doctor was willing to do this for me, as he knows my many limitations well and so, on 6th February, a friend posted his letter for me, which included a cover note of my own, to the DWP then, on the 13th February, I phoned to check that it had arrived. To my horror, they said that it hadn’t, but that I was to ring back in a few days, in case it was waiting to be scanned, then uploaded onto their computer system. I waited another  week then, on 22nd February,  I phoned the DWP, to be reassured that my doctor’s letter had appeared on their system on the 14th February, which was a huge relief for me.

On that same 22nd February, I had also received a letter from Capita (Capita do the assessments for the DWP in my area), dated 7th February.  The letter basically told me that they had received my form, and were now looking at my claim, and that someone would contact me about arranging an assessment for me. I didn’t do anything about it that day, as I was too unwell to cope with any more phone calls then, 2 days later, on 24th February, I had 2 more letters from Capita dropped in my letterbox. The first, dated 13th February, telling me that they had looked at my application for PIP, and that they had arranged an assessment in my nearest large town, 14 miles away, to be done on 2nd March. The 2nd letter, dated 21st February, and also arriving on 24th, was a reminder of the appointment.

I phoned Capita straight away, and explained to the lady who answered that I had just that day received the two letters, and asked her why they had made an appointment away from my home, after I’d already requested a home visit. I explained about the doctor’s letter taking time to be shown on the DWP’s computer, then asked, once again, for a Home Assessment. The lady said straight away, ‘Well, I can cancel this appointment, but you do realise that you are only allowed one cancelation, don’t you?’ I pointed out that I had only just that day received both the letters they had sent me, so hadn’t even known an appointment had already been made – and that I had clearly requested a Home Assessment on my form – but the lady was adamant that this would be the only cancellation I would be allowed, so I had to accept this, and go to the appointment already made for me, or risk having my money stopped immediately I didn’t turn up.

As I had no choice, I had to cancel the appointment, and the lady assured me I would hear from someone within 2-3 days, letting me know when the new appointment would be. While she was on the phone, I made sure to ask her if recording the home assessment was permitted and, after she had gone away to check, she told me it was, but that they would only allow cassette tapes to be used, and that I would have to tape 2 identical copies at the same time, one for me, and one for the assessor. I would be allowed to use ordinary cassette tapes, or even the micro tapes used for dictaphones, but I was not allowed to use any kind of digital recording.

Fortunately, I’d seen this written on a website, so had already bought 2 identical recorders, and the tapes to go with them, so am prepared for that, at least.

I hadn’t heard from Capita by Thursday, 2nd March, so I phoned them to see what was happening. Nothing was happening!

Once again I had to tell the person I spoke to what had already been discussed and, fortunately, he then wrote in my notes that I wished for a Home Assessment – he then promised I’d be hearing, by letter, to let me know the date of the assessment . . .

I’ll be letting you know what happens next . . . .

________________________________________

12-03-17. 3.41 am.

Thought I’d let you know that my home assessment is due on 21st March, at 11.45 am. I just hope that I’m actually awake, and my brain is in working mode when the assessor gets here! 😦

 

 

 

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Filed under Benefits, Changes, Daughters, Death, Disability, DLA, DWP, Ill Health, PIP

Between December 2011 & February 2014, at least 2,380 sick and disabled people have died after losing their entitlement to sickness benefit, and being declared Fit for Work . . .

I’ve just read an email from the Britain Isn’t Eating Blog, and followed a link from there, to an article by the World Socialist Web Site, which tells us about the true figures of those who have died because of New Labour, the Tories, and the Liberal Democrat’s governmental Reforms.

It truly sickens me that they can see these sort of figures, which amount to roughly 90 people every month dying uneccessarily, and yet they still push forward for even more detrimental cuts!

It also sickens me that they refer to the money paid out to those unfortunate enough to be so ill/disabled as ‘Welfare‘ and  ‘Benefits‘, giving the British public the idea that this is a ‘something-for-nothing’ payment when, in fact, it should be referred to as Social Security, due to the fact that most of those claiming it have worked, or have family who do so, and have paid into the system –  a country-wide system that was set up to help those who got into difficulties either through ill health, accident, or disability!

Until the people of this country wake up, and tell the government ‘Enough!’, there will be even more deaths over the next few months, or even years – and shame on those who don’t question what is being done in their own names as, what the government seem to forever forget the minute they come into power, is that they are public servants, there to serve the British Public, not to lord it over us all, gathering as much wealth and power to themselves as they can, and leaving ever more families being driven into destitution and homelessness by their policies!

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Filed under Accident, Austerity, Benefits, Death, Disability, Disability Issues, DLA, DWP, ESA, Government Spending, Health Issues, Housing Benefits, Ill Health, Illness, Impoverishment, Murder, PIP, Politics, Rhetoric, Social Security, Welfare

AAV: 10 Economic fairy stories that people need to stop believing in . . .

I’ve just been reading Another Angry Voice’s post today, and it has so many points to consider when listening to all the Tory b******t about our economy!
I had to agree with every point made, so why don’t you follow the link below, and read it for yourselves – and do let me know what you think? 🙂

10 Economic Fairy Tales . . .

 

 

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Filed under Austerity, Benefits, Budgets, Choices, Economy, Government Spending, House Prices, Impoverishment, Inflation, Low Wages, Overseas Investors, Private Sector, Self-interest