Wednesday 22 June 2011

Welfare Reform; The Human Cost

I wrote a piece for the Guardian today pointing out that whilst 7,000 cancer patients will indeed be affected by time limiting ESA, a further 700,000 people with long term or serious illnesses or disabilities will also lose their benefits.

It was posted late last night, and when I woke up, it had already had 160 comments!

One commenter in particular asked lots of questions which I tried to answer with facts, but ended up saying that he had "lost all respect for my argument when I pointed out that my husband earns £19k a year. He claims.

"I have to say that since Suey2y has revealed upthread that her household has an annual income of £ 19K AND SHE STILL WANTS BENEFITS ON TOP OF THAT, then she is the selfish one..... Frankly, she is rich, not poor"

I wrote this for him. And every man or woman like him up and down the country. I didn't write it in anger - I know lots of people feel the way he does. I certainly didn't write it for sympathy because I hate the bloody stuff. I wrote it because he makes the most important point of all : Can we afford to pay people like me?

This is my response :

"I really don't mind laying my life bare for you. It's an important point

19k is what my husband earns. He pays tax and NI on it. He pays VAT, just like you.

After tax, he takes home £1,280 per month.

We live in Sussex and our rent and council tax are £1025 per month
Our heating bills are £90 per month.
That leaves £165 per month to:

- Feed and clothe a family of four, buy cleaning products and loo roll,
- Keep a car on the road (without which I would be totally housebound).
- We consider a telephone line a necessity too in case I need an ambulance or emergency doctor.
- My hospital is 130 miles away, costing £60 in petrol every month for a round trip.
- We have to pay for my prescriptions which is another £42 per month. I have to eat special foods or I will die - not out of a whim or desire - and they are expensive.
- I have to pay 13.45 a week in childcare which is recompensed through tax credits.
- I get £135 per month in child benefit which I pay to the school for the meal some families get for free because I can't make them sandwiches in the morning. What is left goes in a fund to pay for their school uniforms and trips. They are not sick and suffer enough because Mummy is. It is their money.

Because my husband works, we get none of those things for free and no help with them. We don't want it. My husband has continued to work for 10 years when I could have claimed DLA and he could have claimed Carers Allowance and the state would have paid my rent and council tax.

The state would also have paid for my children's meals at school and free milk every day. Then there would have been the free prescriptions and help with travel costs to get to and from hospital. Crisis loans when I'm stuck in hospital for months at a time and my husband has to visit with the children. We would have got Income support too. And full child tax credits. There's probably more, but we just weren't interested.

My husband always said "If I stop working, we lose everything don't we? What does it say to the kids? We'll never get out of it." And we carried on, getting by as best we could.

We don't take holidays, we never go out we had to sell our house we loved so much to avoid spiralling debt, and still I am not complaining. We did it gladly, for ourselves and for our pride. (Oh, and I have the most fantastic husband & children in the world, so have little to complain about)

ESA meant we survived. Just. In poverty and because of the goodwill of a strong, supportive, achingly generous family and friend network.

It also meant I had some value in my own right. After studying for a degree, working hard through terrible illness for 10 years and raising two children, it acknowledged that I had some value in society of my own. Time Limiting ESA will mean that I am worth nothing. I must rely 100% on the charity of my husband.

My real heartbreak is that my condition is doing this to my family. We can't change it, there is no miracle cure (nor for those other 700,000 either remember) and I would give anything in the world to earn a wage. To use my considerable brain to get us out of this grinding, endless poverty trap, but my useless body won't let me. The 700,000 of us ARE reliant on the "goodwill of the state" and I'm fairly sure we wish with all our hearts it wasn't the case. "

**As ever please click on "Twitter" and "Facebook" buttons below to help me tell as many people as possible, thanks. 


  1. cool story bro

  2. That is perfect. You are so courageous, brilliant and admirable. I really look up to you, you have great strength! I completely agree with everything you say, hopefully this'll make bigoted privileged commenters STFU and think twice before opening their big mouths.

    I think being financially dependent on a partner puts ENORMOUS strain on the relationship itself (not just the financial side). It's so demeaning for the dependent one to have their funds cut completely, and thus their lifeline and personal independence. It's not so much a matter of the money but what having ones OWN funds represents. And what if one partner decides they want out (of the relationship) or are struggling, surely this leads to entrapment and further unhappiness/distress/hopelessness added to an already existing disability. Co-dependence doesn't lead to healthy relationships. God. I hate this government.

  3. We have to pay for my prescriptions which is another £42 per month.

    Surely you'd be better off getting a Prepayment Certificate for £104 a year?

  4. MEisnotallofme22 June 2011 at 12:03

    It takes real bravery to be so open and honest, your voice echoes the circumstances of many of us and I for one, thanks you xx

  5. How is £19k pa considered *rich* when it is £6 less than the national average? Sue I admire you for the honesty and sacrifice you and your family have made

  6. Opinions in this comment are mine and mine alone.

    To put it even further into perspective - at the risk of awakening trolls who'll believe I get too much money - £1028 a month is just £112 a month more than I get (state pension plus DLA - and am I glad I'm no longer on IB, though the following is still as relevant now as it was 18 months ago when I was still on IB).

    The only reason I can manage on my income is that I'm housebound, though with help I manage to get to the pub one afternoon a week (afternoon because by evening, any evening, I'm a wreck). Otherwise I never go anywhere - my only luxuries a computer and fast broadband - it's my access to the world, plus a netbook as backup, because I can't afford a laptop, and a high-end mobe because maintaining communication is vital. Oh yes - I also have a Kindle, because I'm too weak to hold any but the lightest books

    There is little room for any other luxuries, and I've not had a holiday since 1985. My food costs are high, too, but for very different reasons to Sue - standing at the counter preparing food just isn't doable most days, so I buy pre-prepped food that needs the minimum of work (this past week, for example, I've lived on corned beef with potato waffles because I haven't had the strength/energy for anything more complicated.

    It's worth pointing out for the hard of thinking that time-limiting ESA is the most insane policy the bunch of cretins masquerading as a government has yet come up with.
    Cameron cannot possibly believe that cutting off all funding to people who, like Sue, and me, are never going to recover (yes, yes, I know it doesn't apply to me - just making a point!). What are we supposed to do - just curl up and die?

    I firmly believe that, on the subject of the chronically sick and disabled, Cameron is totally irrational.

    My view is that he sees his campaign of attrition, somehow, as payback for the death of his profoundly disabled son, but the point has also been made (hat tip to Rhydian), that he might be using his son as a benchmark, against which we are all measured and, inevitably, fall short. I suspect we might both be right.

    Whatever, the end result of this insane policy is disastrous for those on IB or ESA (and I doubt my DLA is particularly safe, even though I have a clutch of illnesses from which I am dying - I might have year, a little more maybe).

    That there are illnesses from which a full recovery can be made in a year is obvious. Equally obvious is that there are very many more from which recovery is impossible, and about 700,000 people are so afflicted.

    If there were to be just ONE qualifying condition for disability benefits, having a disabling AND incurable condition should be it. What the hell else can we do - except kill ourselves, but were we to do that Cameron would just claim that we'd been mentally ill after all. We simply cannot win as things stand.

    So ask yourselves, is Cameron actually insane, at least on the subject of disability or, behind that shiny, smug, exterior, is there the most evil individual this country has thrown up in centuries?

  7. After reading your explanation you don't seem to have an extravagant lifestyle; however £19,000 p.a. does seem a lot of money when most people in the town where I live earn no more than £15,000. I live in the North where some living costs are considerably cheaper than down south...but many aren't.

  8. Lee, £19k is NOT a lot of money.

    OK, it's more that your local average, but so what? Some people earn more than others - it's a fact of life and, even in yours town, there will be those who earn far more than £15k. Or £19k. In the context of this debate, it's largely largely irrelevant.

  9. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. My partner too earns enough so that I will not receive ESA under the time limiting factor. I got ill when we had been together just 6 months, and had literally just moved in together, in fact I still had a couple of weeks left on my rental agreement. If the time limiting ESA had been in effect then, I don't know if we would still be together today and I would be alone in my struggle. It would have changed all our choices about living together at a time when I needed his support the most. These changes are going to make it very difficult for people keep their relationships going by adding more stress and strain on top of just coping with changes in health.

  10. I was going to say as Lisa has, about getting a "season ticket" for prescriptions. Meanwhile, your entitlement to DLA has nothing to do with your husband's work status - if you're entitled and not claiming currently, do so! That money is for some of the extra expense of being disabled.

    In fairness and forgive me if you've done the sums, but I think it is extremely unlikely that you would be better off if your husband did not work. If you're not getting higher rates of DLA now, then your husband might not even qualify for Carer's Allowance. Most people don't get nearly enough housing benefit to cover full rent - here in East Anglia, there's at least a £100 a month shortfall, that increases further south. And it is my understanding that you only get Tax Credits of any kind if you are paying Income Tax - if neither of you were, you'd get nothing.

    Does this mean you are rich? Nope. Does this mean that time-limiting ESA isn't a terrific scandal? Nope, it most definitely is. You are broke and having escaped an abusive relationship in which my illness and practical dependence was constantly used against me, I am very fearful of any circumstances in which a disabled family member is left without any income at all. With happy relationships, this creates hardship, guilt and a tricky imbalance of things. In unhappy relationships, it's downright dangerous.

    But I also think we must be a little careful with the myth that there are many people who would be better off not working. Your family undoubtedly deserves more help, you all deserve applause for managing as well as you do and time-limiting any part of ESA is totally and utterly unfair, against the principle of National Insurance and indeed against the principle of any form of disability benefit.

  11. Sue, I actually believe people are not fully aware of the desperate situation we all could potentially be in, or for that matter the situation they themselves could be in. If they were to research it better then i am sure it would scare the hell out of them and it would almost certainly change their views. In the meantime though we can only try and guide them in right direction.
    Onwards and Upwards.

    As ever Sue a great post.

  12. I did not realise how bad things were until I ended up with heart attacks and could not longer work to pay the state my quota of 40% taxes over my working life over 20 years. I always thought I was contributing to a safety net and was paying insurance though the nhi payments of 6.5%. Had the money gone to a private company they would be sued but since its the government they can get away with treating us like scum and not taking any responsibilities based on our years of payments into the system. I also thought that I paid extra to cover other people who were unable to pay for a years due to their illnesses so that society was made a better place. This is where the government has let us down ! It basically has ripped us all off and then making it all into our fault in the process. Wonderful !

  13. Sue, I have every sympathy with your position but may I make a small suggestion which might improve your financial position.
    You are clearly a very intelligent & within your physical limitations, capable person. You have designed a very professional website, but does it produce income for you? I would suggest that a similar effort put into a commercial venture could significantly improve you financial position. It's OK having principles but principles don't pay the bills.
    Go for it gal, at least get some paying advertising, or what about a subscription membership (like the Times) & get some cash in.

  14. Great article. It's encouraging to see the increased support for and increased confidence of disabled people on CiF in the past few months or so.

  15. The time limiting factor if for those who are placed in the work related group only ?

  16. To the kind Anonymous who suggests advertising.

    I did look into it, but the revenue is actually very low. To replace the benefits I currently get, I need to ensure regular income, because as soon as I advertise, I' guessed it....lose my benefits.

    It doesn't have to be much, but to accept a form of income, it must replace the small amount I currently get in benefits and advertising doesn't do that.

  17. You should rename your blog "Diary of a someone who has a strong sense of self-entitlement that they have become unreasonably demanding"

    I also love how your rage at that commenter by saying how much you have left over out of your household income at the end of every month. Meanwhile you would would be quite happy for the rest of us to get heavily taxed to support the 700,000 people on ESA. Meanwhile there are people who are living off 16K a year, have nothing left at the end of it and supporting the welfare state though their taxes.

    How about we scrap the welfare state, massively reduce taxes due to the £150bl savings we would make, then people like yourself wouldn't need ESA in the first place.

  18. FourBanks is right. Time limiting for ESA only applies to those placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). The placement follows an assessment where you could be placed in the Support Group, so you are exempt from time-limiting changes.

    700,000 people wont be placed in WRAG. Unless they are all scroungers. Even then if they are unemployed they will get JSA.

  19. *sigh*

    700,000 is the figure, quoted in this DWP report specifically on time limiting ESA who not only WILL go into the WRAG but WILL be affected by the time limit.

    Whoever you are, if you wrote both of the comments above, this is not CiF, my readers are so well informed they will only embarrass you and they won't respond to aggressive, inaccurate nonsense. It's not worth their precious energy or a moment of their time.

  20. *sigh*

    400,000 in 2012/13 goes up to 700,000 in 2015/16. So your 700,00 figure is for people in the future? If these 400,000 people that are on it now deemed able to work, they should find work, just like the rest of us struggle to. 31million people are of "working age" in the UK, are you seriously telling me that 1 in 30 of them are to ill to work?

    Cif? TBH the welfare state could use some lemon cleaner going through it.

    "we had to sell our house we loved so much to avoid spiralling debt" - I am sure that is how the government feels. But they don't have the option of selling up, just cutting expenditure.

    And if your readers are so well informed they can bring it. Even the Hellenes can see that our welfare dependent state is unaffordable.

  21. I suppose the problem with allowing an anonymous tag is that you get lots that are the same name. I'm the one who suggested the advertising. I didn't mean exclusively advertising, I mean there are many things that can be done, writing articles for example. I sure Jeremy Clarkson doesn't write for the Sunday Times for nothing!
    You disappoint me when you say that you don't want to earn money as that would lose your benefits. Whilst sympathising with your position, I do believe that benefits should be regarded as a temporary support, and that wherever possible everyone should do their level best to stand on their own feet. As for being dependent on your partner, well that is what marriage is all about.

  22. Just a note. If you are spending more than 16 hours a week on this blog, you shouldn't be claiming benefits as it is classed as work. Just like unemployed graduates who undertake unpaid internships can't claim benefits.

  23. Your family is very much like ours sue although my wife works part time as she is my carer but incomes are the same which as you say are not extravagant in this day and age

  24. [QUOTE]Ron
    So ask yourselves, is Cameron actually insane, at least on the subject of disability or, behind that shiny, smug, exterior, is there the most evil individual this country has thrown up in centuries?[/QUOTE]

    Well Ron you make a good point having known many mp's over the past 50 years he is certainly the worst by a long way Mrs thatcher was bad but David Cameron along with IDS have gone way off the mark and would rank them below the BNP party the BNP party hate the guts of the immigrants and David Cameron hates the guts of the sick and disabled which is odd as his son died because of sickness along with a disability

    I have not been able to get understand that from the prime minister maybe he is just seeking revenge on the sick and disabled and hopes we will die to ? or as you say Ron maybe he is just twisted because of his sons death ?

    we will never know what i do know of wealthy mp's is that they are mainly very detached from their families and power and money are everything to them

  25. Mr Stephen Round23 June 2011 at 01:19

    Before The Second World War the Working Classes were well on their way to setting up their own Welfare State. Our doctors would really be Our Doctors and we would be able to claim against any employer if we suffered from any work related diseases. The reason why the London Government set up the NHS and The Plastic Replica - - - Welfare State was to stop us from creating our own!

    There is no democratic presence in Westminster and there never has been. Your MPs should speak with you in your constituency not with others elsewhere - why are they there? Their Welfare state has always been anathema to them they try to sabotage any initiative which gives us succour they need us to be totally dependent on them. They know our poverty is their wealth why believe in belief to beleave in - them?

    They have no reason to give us any form of independence whatever and if we did we would soon literally make mincemeat of them what are we English doing - tolerating such thieving lowlife scumbag machiavellian monsters as them!

  26. And so we all find ourselves upon the Titanic. Neither wheelchair nor jewels of much use to anyone now may as well rearrange a deck chair or two and enjoy the show. :)

  27. I agree with the commentator above. Your writing is intelligent, witty and extremely readable. If I was editor of one of the big Sunday papers, I'd consider I'd got myself a bargain if you wrote a few good pieces a month for me for a payment of £3K or so. I wish you well in your fight to continue getting ESA, but don't sell yourself short either.

  28. If people post as "anonymous" they can always put a name after to distinguish themselves.

    As for the working thing, you misunderstand me totally. "you say that you don't want to earn money as that would lose your benefits."

    I can't earn £100 per month and lose £400!!! As soon as I can find someone willing to pay me £600pm - in order that I can cover what I lose and pay for the extra childcare, I'll bite their hand off.

  29. By the way everyone, thank you for not engaging with threats here or with clearly incorrect nonsense designed to keep us all wasting our time all day.

  30. Where are the threats? One of the previous comments suggestion is perfectly legitimate. Your problem is you get taxed too much. Why do you get taxed too much? Because of Government expenditure. Why is the Government spending too much? Because of £150bn a year in benefit payments. Scrap the benefits - reduce tax - more money to in your pocket.

    Also if you are going to suggest people share your writing across facebook and twitter yous hould expect some critisim/debate and people to disagree with you.

    - Jeremy

  31. "History is full of inferior forces creating so much trouble that the invading army leaves."

    We have to become a force to get rid of that army invading us (The Govt) and become a force that is in no way 'inferior'

  32. Sue, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it think ;)

    I'm becoming convinced that much of society engages in collective fingers-in-ears singing of 'lalala, I can't hear you,' whenever people try to educate them about the reality of disability and/or surviving on benefits. They don't want to understand that the ability to put together a blog, or an article, may exist in parallel with disability that makes you effectively unemployable, while still falling short of placing you in the ESA Support Group, because that would shake their cosy assumptions that we're all simply swinging the lead. Half my blogs are put together in the middle of the night when I'm in too much pain to sleep, not exactly the evidence of potential employability most employers are looking for (and that's excluding the c75% who are quite open about preferring to break the law rather than consider employing a disabled person). Deadlines, schedules and disability are often fundamentally incompatible, particularly for those of us with disabilities which are subject to completely random flare-ups, and that makes us problematical for most employers before we even get in to discussing the physical adjustments that might be necessary in order for us to do the job.

    Rather than assume that every disabled person is a benefit scrounger and positively scheming to live on benefits for life, wouldn't it be a refreshing change if the anonymous posters wondered whether their understanding of disability, or the benefit system, might be the problem instead?

  33. So total income tax reciepts 2010-2011 was £148.4 billion:

    Total Expenditure directed at people of working age 2010-2011 was £47.863 billion:

    I excluded expenditure directed at children (4.415 billion) and over working age (100.046 billion), because they are unable to work to replace the benefits removed. Physically there is no reason they couldn't work, but it's unlikely any mainstream political party would put children to work and remove the concept of retirement completely.

    Some maths now:

    £148.4-£47.863 = £100.537 billion

    Monthly income tax on £19000 is £192.08:

    (100.537/148.4)*192.08 = £130.13

    So Sue's husband would be £61.95 better off a month...

    Of course these are idealistic figures. The people with benefits removed would either work more (increasing income tax reciepts therefore reducing income tax rates for all) or die (temporarily increasing but ultimately reducing expenditure on other governemnt services, NHS, etc).

  34. Wow we spend 10bl less on people over working age than we do on the NHS. Tragic (for the NHS). £360 quid a year better off for the lot of us. Winning!

    - Pete

  35. I like Darks thinking.

    - Tongue

  36. "700,000 people wont be placed in WRAG. Unless they are all scroungers. Even then if they are unemployed they will get JSA."

    Sue already addressed this one, but it seems to come with a complete misunderstanding of the purpose, of ESA, the ESA WRAG and time-limiting of ESA CR, so I thought I might address that.

    ESA is primarily an out-of-work benefit existing as a parallel to JSA for people too disabled to work. People are placed into the ESA Work-Related Activities Group after undergoing the Work Capability Assessment if it is felt that they are currently too disabled to work, but will potentially be able to return to the workforce at some point in the future. Nothing to do with them being 'scroungers', in fact a measure of precisely the opposite. Nor is the ESA WRAG anything to do with JSA, by definition people in the ESA WRAG are too disabled for the JSA system to cope with (OTOH, having actually been on JSA while disabled I suspect anyone with a hangnail is actually too disabled for the system to cope with -- the only way it could deal with my disability was to transfer me to ESA).

    Turning to the time-limiting of Contributions Related ESA, which the DWP's own Equalities Impact Assessment estimates will directly effect 700,000 disabled people (and which dismisses the consequences of that in a shockingly couldn't-care-less manner), an argument is made by the politicians that it parallels the time-limiting of CR JSA, but the problem is that this is a false comparison. People on JSA faced with receiving no benefit whatsoever have some potential to help themselves into work, people on ESA WRAG in that situation are dependent on their disability improving, which is a situation outside the control of most of us. CR ESA comes with a set timeline, and no matter how much ministers might wish it, disabilities don't.

    When CR ESA recipients are faced with time-limiting there are three possibilities. Those with low enough family incomes will transition to Income Related ESA, those with family incomes above a remarkably low figure will be forced to become dependent on their partner's income and those with no partner, but savings, will be forced to live on their savings, only becoming eligible for full IR ESA once those savings are drawn down to <£6K.

    For people whose disabilities leave them with little hope of becoming fit for, or finding work, those are some fairly stark alternatives.

  37. Excellent post. I think this 'It also meant I had some value in my own right' is what most negative commnetors are missing the point of. Do they know how demoralising it is to be an adult who is dependent on others? To not be acknowledged as a person in thier own right, deserving of an income to buy even the most basic things for yourself?
    Yes an awful lot of long term sick and disabled people rely on the kindness and generoisty of their family and/or partners but we shouldn't have to, We should be able to support ourselves, being unable to work due to illness or disability through no fault of our own should not be an excuse to treat us a less than human.
    And the more I read about the reforms and the more I attempt my ESA assessment form of doom, the more I do feel 'less than human', the more I feel like an unwated burde, the more I wonder if I would be better off not exisiting. I would love to be able to work, to support myself but at the moment I can't, and it is unlikely I will be able to in the near future but I do not see why that should disqualify me from being a useful member of society insetad of a 'drain' or 'scorunger'. Being employed and 'economically active' should not be the sole way by which we are measured as 'useful' to society.

    If we can afford to overlook the billions lost in tax evasion by the wealthy, we can bloody well afford to treat all members of society as human beings and support them as such.

  38. Im with DavidG. Keep at it Sue, you do a great job at raising the issues. There are alternatives to cuts, lots of them, bringing in the unpaid/evaded/avoided tax, of 120 ish billion. Thats a start!
    Ive lost thousands over the years as mental health problems have made work difficult, I always have worked but have been limited.
    Afraid though some will understand others will refuse too unless it happens to them...

  39. Here's another anonymous - but only because I can't make head or tail of the other "profiles" offered!(AP)

    I wanted to say thanks to you Sue for being so open about your situation. It's only by delving into the detail that reality is shown - but I know I would not be willing to throw my details into the public arena: perhaps such "cowardice" is where so many of us in the "sick/disabled" camp go wrong? I don't think people have an inkling of what is really going on - and unfortunately some don't give a damn. I am lucky I have not had to claim ESA having sufficient with my occupational pension, DLA and divorce settlement - but I am well aware of how I'd feel if I had to go through all the difficulties of assessment to then have it all taken from me after a year!! Sometimes I have been surprised by the government's (and society's) generosity - but now I realise it is a paper-thin veneer. I read somewhere that a government either supports its citizens or monitors them: despite Lib Dem talk about civil rights this coalition government is most definitely a monitoring government and as such is totally unable to give support. I fear the future of a society which works people to the bone, tries to make money out of hardship, makes a distinction between worthy and unworthy, puts up cosy walls around the "saved" and consigns the rest to a hell of deprivation. People matter - individuals matter. How people choose to live and what they spend their money on is their affair - but there has to be enough to exist on. I reckon the idea of a citizen's income comes to the fore here. Everyone gets say £10000 a year (children less)for life - if they go to work then they start paying tax from the word go but it would still pay to go to work as it is all in addition to the basic £10000. I'm not sure of all the details but apart from maybe some extra funding for special circumstances there would be no need for any welfare at all(including pensions)! Just think of a society where people could rely on a basic income no matter what happens, can choose how to live their lives and with whom and where monitoring is irrelevant! The idea is serious - see

  40. Thought your article was excellent, thanks. I don't believe in personalities being to blame for this, i.e. 'evil' David Cameron, but a global trend against welfare and benefits, and the concept of equality and sharing in society. I think your example is a sad but excellent one, as people on benefits are too often demonised-a modern reworked example of the Victorian idea of an 'undeserving poor'-this shows that everyone should be support the cocnept of a welfare state, as noone can predict the future where they may need to rely on it. Even if this wasn't the case, I think generosity of spirit and action towards fellow human beings should make a welcome return. The 'citizen's income' is an excellent idea, and one that I give my full support to.

  41. To the Anonymous numpty who suggested everyone in the country should simply be given an income of £10k..well the smackheads & knife carriers would love that wouldn't they! It's about as sensible as paying kids to stay on at school, so they can afford the latest designer trainers.
    We have the minimum wage, all able bodied people should take care of themselves & the state should provide a safety net for those who can't. But there should be annual & rigorous tests to weed out the minority of scroungers. I agree everyone should pay their taxes, tax evaders should be locked up but there is NOTHING wrong with tax avoidance. It is every mans duty to pay what is required & no more. If the government doesn't like that then it is up to them to close the avoidance schemes.

  42. Rob - Do you know much about how Universal Credit works? From your post, I fear it may put you right off Iain Duncan-Smith....

  43. @Rob "there should be annual & rigorous tests to weed out the minority of scroungers."

    Easy to say if you don't have to go through them. Spend some time on disability boards and listen to disabled people talking about what the already rigorous tests do to them. People are being made seriously ill by retesting with shocking regularity, one of my WCAs left me in so much pain I didn't even know what day it was, and that's at the lower end of the spectrum of shameful consequences.

  44. I know what you mean David they to have left me living a life of hell but i told them the next time they cause me pain will be their last i think they got the hint and they have never troubled me again

    But new staff come along and continue to hurt the sick and disabled both verbally and in hurting you in examining you but as i say a few good words in their ears about it happening again being their last does the trick or should do in my case if they are wise

  45. @DavidG: All benefits should be means tested no matter what. Just as people declare their low income and poor finances to get help, the disabled should prove that they are that. Otherwise what stops any Tom, Dick and Harry complaining they have a bad back to get on incapacity?

  46. Brilliant post. In essence, if you work, or your partner works, as far as the state is concerned you've self declared yourself as non-disabled and everything apart from DLA gets dropped. For information, the eligibility for ESA goes on the partner working 24+ hours per week, NOT on the actual earnings.

    The disability facilities grant is also means tested, meaning if you work you have to spend your income on disability housing adaptions which would be funded otherwise; incidentally, the means test doesn't even allow for outgoings such as mortgage payments. If you're not unemployed and receiving housing benefit, you can forget getting any help.

    Then we come onto the issue of wheelchair funding - a decent electric wheelchair will set you back £4-5,000, and guess what, you have to fund the majority of that yourself too!

    My partner and I both work. As a reward from the state for doing the right thing we've had to spend pretty much every penny we earn on things that would be provided by the state if we didn't work, whilst friends of ours living totally off the state sit in their fully funded and adapted homes on facebook complaining that their new iPhone isn't quite as good as the new Blackberry they got last month.

    Make work pay?

  47. I think both are in pretty dire straits just now.

    Nonetheless there is certainly a terrible flaw in a system that says "You work, so get on with it" My husband and I are on the brink of bankruptcy - we've already sold our house - and all because he wanted to work.

    All that crap about "rewarding those who do the right thing" and "incentives to work" are just as dishonest as the other claims they make.

    And that's without even going into the horrible distinction that those who haven't been able to work are somehow "doing the wrong thing".