Tag Archives: DLA

Benefits Street

I felt I just had to comment on this programme. I didn’t really want to watch it, knowing before I did exactly what impression it would be making to the wider public. I was going to post a link but am not sure I want to up the viewing figures but I suppose in order to form an opinion you need it so http://www.channel4.com/programmes/benefits-street.

Having been in the position of being on benefits for a while I know it isn’t possible to live comfortably on them. You have to make sacrifices which in the opinion of some people is only right for something which isn’t meant to be forever. For those who find themselves unable to work through illness or can’t find a job no matter how hard they try, it may be something they have to do for the foreseeable future or for the rest of their life. It is not possible, contrary to popular opinion to have HD tv’s, the latest iPhone or computer, fantastic holidays (or any holiday in most cases) or posh cars on benefits. The reason people have these things can be many.

1)  They already had them before they claimed benefits.

2) A kind family member has gifted the item(s)

3) They are getting money from elsewhere.

Whilst I can’t condone people working on the side, shoplifting or drug taking I can understand getting to the point where you no longer care about anything but getting money from somewhere to feed your family or heat your home. It amazes me that people are so quick to label benefits claimants as scroungers but no one gives as much publicity to MP’s scrounging. What about the thousands paid by Diane Abbott or Iain Duncan Smith from taxpayers pockets for their portraits!  Surely in a country where children are going hungry this is wrong on every level!

I know the people on the street portrayed in Benefits Street could be classed as rough and ready, but one thing they do seem to have that a lot of us lack is community spirit and I applaud that. No one knows today where they will be in a year’s time. Poverty can be a paycheck away. Please look a little deeper before you judge these people. Circumstances have made them into the people they are. No one wants to live a stressful life like theirs.

Major meltdown

Not written for a while as not much to report. Our friends have moved and are very unhappy, in fact unhappy isn’t strong enough they have sunk into a depression. The place they’ve moved to is a shit hole and they have no money to fix it up. There is nothing you can say to them is there? Personally I would have stuck it out until I could’nt go on any longer but realistically unless the jobs market changes there is little chance of them getting employment so perhaps they had no choice. It’s a really sad place to be – pushing 60 with nothing to show for it.:(

Here my partner has had a letter saying he’s in the WRAG group and detailing his benefits breakdown but we aren’t sure if this is the result of his medical or not as there wasn’t any points breakdown. Or do you only get that if they refuse you ESA? He has also had a letter with an appointment for a work related interview next month. We’ll see what happens!

Myself I’ve just had enough. I’m in the process of trying to start a business but it is off-putting when they are changing the benefit rules to penalize even this. I’ve applied for a few jobs but no joy, have applied to volunteer, no joy, it seems I’m stuck in this trap. To be honest and I’m sorry if this sounds callous but I don’t want to be where the buck stops any more. I don’t want to be the one who sorts out all the bills, keeps the house something like clean, feeds everyone, washes and irons the clothes, sits doing anything they can to make a bit of extra cash on the internet, just so we can have the things we need. I don’t want to go out shopping and come back to find the same mess I left when I went out because him indoors can’t be bothered to do anything. I’m losing the plot. Being the one who runs the house I could cope with but being the one who runs the house and has to deal with someone who is negative from the minute he rises everyday is just too much and I want out. I’ve had enough!!!

 

More pain -council tax benefit changes

Yet another shock to the pockets of the poor and vulnerable is set to be upon us in April when changes to council tax benefit take hold. Whilst it is in the hands of each local authority to decide how to distribute the money allocated for this benefit many have taken the decision to abolish 100% benefit for working age people. This means that many of those in poorly paid work, ill, disabled or out of work will have to find something out of their meagre income towards their council tax. In the case of my friends facing the bedroom tax, our local paper is reporting that their council expects to collect at least 8.5% from those who previously received 100% benefit, which they are saying will amount to approximately £85 per year for a Band A property. So now on top of the bedroom tax of approximately £25 per week they now have at least an extra £2 to find towards their council tax. To those who aren’t struggling this won’t sound much but when you are at the bottom end of the income spectrum, every penny counts and this is just pouring more stress and hardship on top of  the already immense pressure they are under. Where will it end?

On a brighter note momentum seems to be growing in the highlighting of the bedroom tax with members of the group on facebook appearing on radio 5, channel 4 news, newspapers (details can be found here https://www.facebook.com/groups/antibedroomtax/) and pieces cropping up on various local news programmes. Well done to all those helping to highlight the cause. Here’s hoping we can get this unfair tax reversed.

Here we go again!

Having sought advice from a welfare rights centre it seems that yes it is correct that you can be reviewed six months after winning an appeal for ESA. So it seems here we go again! Obviously the idea is to put off those who aren’t genuine but this is causing immense stress to those who are genuine and their families. It is not good for the health of anyone to be put through this stress on a regular basis. I have always borne the burden of the paperwork from DWP as my partner can’t cope with it all, but I’m now finding myself in the position of feeling as if I’m struggling to cope also. It’s beginning to affect my health and not for the better! I have been suffering with stomach problems since xmas, together with low mood/depression. I haven’t yet sought medical treatment but will have to if it continues. As the claim for ESA isn’t mine none of my problems are taken into account but all this uncertainty and stress is very hard for me to cope with so I really feel for people who have numerous medical issues as well as having to deal with ESA claims, bedroom tax problems and the impending changes to DLA. I have to come to the conclusion that this is the idea, make us all so ill that we roll over and take all that is thrown at us or worse decide this life isn’t worth living anymore, as so many have already done. I’d challenge the likes of Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and IDS to travel on buses around my deprived area of Britain and listen to what people really think and have to contend with on a daily basis. I regularly overhear people struggling to apply for the number of jobs asked for by the jobcentre, worrying about being ill in case they lose their job, talking about committing a crime so they’ll get help to find a home because they’re sick of sofa surfing and have exhausted every other avenue of help, and wondering what they have to look forward to. Do they want us all to turn to crime?
I for one know I can’t carry on like this. I am trying to better my prospects of getting off benefits but if this keeps on I won’t have the will or health to do anything. How does that help either the country or the individual?

Happy New Year!!

Happy new year everyone!! Unfortunately the start to mine has been a bit mixed, the depression/low mood has reared its ugly head again and have been left feeling less than healthy which is why I haven’t felt like posting.

Just before xmas we received a new ESA 50 form to fill in even though it is only about 6 months since we won the appeal for the last one. I’m not sure if this means we may have to go through it all again but just the thought of it fills me with dread. I really cannot go through this every 6-12 months but I suppose that’s the idea.

The stress of it all last time was immense and I don’t think the Government realizes or cares about the impact of all this stress on our health. The friends of ours who face the bedroom tax have spent the whole of xmas being ill, and having to deal with one relative overdosing due to the hopelessness caused by their situation. Thankfully they were ok after treatment.

Despite all the spotlight on ATOS, DWP and the Government regarding their treatment of the disadvantaged little seems to be changing as the case of the man with heart failure on the news a few days ago highlighted. Despite the fact he wore a box with wires fixed to his heart in order to remain alive he received no points and was found fit for work. Needless to say he is appealing but at what cost to his health. So we see the demonization goes on………

Atos causing pain again!

The lady  (Mrs X) mentioned in my previous post who had failed her ATOS medical has sought advise from Welfare Rights, who have said yes she can appeal and will likely win but will almost definitely be placed in the WRAG group. Apparently even life threatening illness isn’t enough to get you into the Support group as we have all seen from cases highlighted in the press! This has plunged Mrs X into depression as she now realizes she will be subject to attending pointless Jobcentre interviews, forced to apply for jobs she has no chance of getting and face sanctions if she isn’t seen to be doing enough! Mrs X could also find herself having to attend a placement on workfare. All this when her Doctor says she isn’t fit for work. Unfortunately this government aren’t satisfied with all the misery they’ve caused so far and look set to cause more by stepping up the pressure on those in the WRAG group by forcing them on to mandatory work schemes.

My partner has received a letter to this effect just this week. As I’ve said before perhaps with a bit of understanding from employers some of those on ESA could work but unfortunately that understanding is sadly lacking.  If any of those people with long-term health problems did manage to secure a job in many cases it just wouldn’t last because these health problems won’t just go away and time is money. Lets face it money is more important than people’s lives in our society as is shown time and time again. We should be looking after those too ill to work not demonizing them and causing them further pain. I do wonder where all this will end – with the targeting of DLA starting soon the future for those who dare to become ill or disables looks increasingly grim!

ATOS STRIKES AGAIN!!!!!!!

Despite all the publicity surrounding Atos medicals it seems they have learned nothing! An acquaintance of mine, lets call her Mrs X was telling me of her experience at the medical and it’s the same story we’ve been hearing since these medicals began. Mrs X worked doing manual and driving jobs until about ten years ago when she developed a back problem and could no longer manage to work. An operation was advised but Mrs X was reluctant due to the possibility of the op leaving her in a worse position. Her husband persuaded her that she should go ahead with the op despite the fact it could leave her paralysed. Fortunately though this didn’t happen, unfortunately neither did significant improvement and Mrs X resigned herself to the fact that return to her previous normality wasn’t an option. Mrs X can’t walk very far, is in constant pain, walks slowly, can neither sit or stand for long periods and uses a mobility scooter to get about.

Fast forward to the Atos medical which was held on the third floor of the building. Upon entering she was told she couldn’t go up on the lift in her scooter and was asked if she would be able to use the stairs should there be a fire. Her response was a truthful yes she could but by the time she got to the bottom the building might well be burnt to the ground. Deciding this was too risky they asked the nurse conducting the medical to come to the ground floor and conduct her medical there.

The nurse could clearly see Mrs X needed to use the scooter, had access to the doctor’s report about medical conditions and yet guess what Mrs X like many that have gone before her received nil points. How can someone needing help to get around get no points at all? It beggars belief! Mrs X is of course appealing so it will cost the DWP time and money to fight their case which on past experience I would hazard a guess they will lose. They have learned nothing!!! Their quest to get the ‘spongers’ goes on!!!