Some have been asking why everyone is so sad, so irritable.
Well, we spent two years or so warning
what the Welfare Reform Bill 2010-11 would do. We were accused of scaremongering, of hyperbole. But we knew what was coming. We knew what this so dreadful piece of legislation was going to do. Though the Government refused to conduct an overall impact assessment, we knew what the overall impact would be. Why? Because the bill, now an act, was referring to our lives.
Our lives. Every aspect of them. How much care we are entitled to in our communities, how much income they judge we can live on, whether we would work or not, whether we socialise or not. We didn't need to read white papers or committee reports or research papers to know, though we read them and reported on them endlessly. We understood in a heartbeat. We've spent years filling in the forms, sweating with terror before an assessor (oh yes, there were always assessments, a fact the Government love to deny) juggling the last £1.50, occasionally needing crisis loans - this is how we live.
And now the act is a bill. It is law. The un-informed and ignorant love it, the even-slightly-informed are watching the slowest car crash of all time through their fingers. All of the warnings, all of the cautious, reasonable arguments we made are coming true right before our eyes. A daily procession of astonished horror as millions of sick and disabled people up and down the country realise with shock, that the Government "did mean them" after all.
The following blog post was sent to me earlier. I have no idea who this woman is, what help they've already managed to arrange, what they might have been rejected for or accepted for. I think her bewilderment and obvious confusion shows how the system fails better than I ever could with fancy research.
I would just beg ANYONE who thinks welfare reform is going well to read her story and ask yourselves if this is what you thought would happen? Please. All the John Redwoods and Ken Clarkes and Boris Johnsons who believe passionately that welfare reform must happen but surely, never in a million years intended it to do this? Please, imagine you are in her shoes. Imagine the shock and bewilderment, the overwhelming workload of looking after 4 children under 8 and a now brain damaged husband.
And PLEASE believe me when I say this is not a one off. I am now sent stories like this all day, every day.
Finally, would John Howell MP please contact this woman TODAY. He is her MP and it is his duty to help her. Not just a phone call and promises of help in the future. Would he please ask his secretary to phone this woman, talk through the whole situation with her and actively find solutions for her? He must find her a good welfare advocate today
, make an appointment for her with the CAB today,
phone the council housing department HE is elected to represent and insist they find her suitable, accessible housing today.
It is his government that are so adamant these things can be dealt with locally. No more crisis loans. As her MP, John Howell can no longer fob her off as a constituent - almost all of her problems have been devolved to local government and it is up to him to help her access the services and support her family so desperately needs.
Please, if you can help this woman and live in the Thame area, would you get in touch with her? If you're just reading this post in horror, please share it far and wide. The more people that read it, the more chance that we can find her the help she so desperately needs.
The battle of my life…
This following statement I am writing in the hope that it may fall upon the person out there I need to help me in this dire situation…I am writing it for anyone to use, re-post (if you would? Thanks) and to anyone out there who might listen and help…
We live in a country where we thankfully have the NHS, the benefit system, thank goodness that IS in place to help-but as they have cut off my benefits till some kind of proof of something or other is provided, I am now in a dire situation and unable to feed my children…The system is NOT working for me, but against me…Surely we’re the ones they are put in place for???
After my husband Alex Wood, suffered a severe brain injury on the 4th October 2011, my life, now nearly a year on becomes not easier, but ever more fearful and stressful.
After a few weeks now of insane trials, fighting against the benefits system, fighting for funding for Alex and my head spinning with where to go next, I am now writing this as I have to take this a step higher…
Yes, Alex is making progress, and yes, we do have some kind of future, yes, I am 100% behind him and on the frontline battling for him to continue making this progress, but for Alex to continue making progress, caught up, now in the dependent position of being a ‘single mum’ of four, aged 8, 7, 6 and 4, in order for me as their mother to feed, clothe them, keep a roof over their heads, I am fully dependent on the benefits system, and reliant on the council finding us a council house adapted to Alex’s needs, now blind and severely disabled and cognitively impaired…
The council tell me ‘there are no properties suitable’…Will there ever be?? Alex can visit for extremely short periods only as he is restricted by the lack of access and is, in effect homeless, as he cannot be housed in the temporary house we are in…
The situation is, that I alone am now responsible for providing for our four young children, for fighting to get the right and sustained funds for Alex’s rehabilitation and re-education. I have to be everywhere, and have to be everything for everyone, whilst running a house and making sure the kids have clean clothes amongst a myriad other chores…Whilst living with indescribable grief at the loss of the husband that Alex used to be...
Surely the system is there to help people in difficult situations, that’s why it exists doesn’t it? But my experience is that it is there to hinder and after receiving a letter telling Alex he has a job interview on the 28th September which if he doesn’t attend could effect his benefit (Employment Support Allowance) is just more than ridiculous…They tell me when I ring the job centre they’ll do it over the phone instead…??? Do they not get it? He is utterly and completely incapable of this…!
I fight daily battles, not just on an emotional level facing the fact that my soul mate, my whirlwind romance, my everything, is not the man he was, and all the grief that leaves me to deal with, but surmounting this, then further battles with the benefits system, a car which is on its last legs and not having any idea how I would ever replace it…
The system clearly does not work for people who genuinely need it. And I genuinely do!
I am not sat about all day on my bum wondering what I can do today with peace and quiet…I am out there making calls, thinking of and organising fundraisers for my husband, planning things for the kids we can do for free to give them a good childhood. Counselling them as they need it, their dad is not the dad he once was, and they grieve this terribly, as do I.
So who can help me? Who will share this? Who will help me get this to the right people who can make a difference and take my story on board and care enough to do something about it?
I have written to Boris Johnson, he might help?
The local MP, John Howell, in Thame was not interested, one of his secretaries emailed me weeks after I sent a desperate plea saying they did not deal with cases like mine, to go to the council…This does effect him actually, he is a government MP, under the noses of the government I am (as the child tax credits have been put on hold till I provide a particular piece of evidence) a mother of four under eights with no access to funds to feed my children…
I am going to approach the Labour Thame MP with what he might be able to do in light of this.
If you can share this post, spread the word, that will be doing me a massive service…
I am turning my fear for not being able to provide for my kids into rage and action…in the frontline now as I need help to get Alex the right rehabilitation, not at the mercy of the NHS and the fear that the indefinite funds will one day run out, and he will not have the chance he needs.
I have to fight for him, I have to fight for my kids, any other mother out there in my situation would do the same.
Thank you for listening, thank you for sharing, and I hope this gets my story out there and Alex does get the chance he needs…"