Sunday 24 March 2013

Time Limiting ESA - The Reality

Regular readers will remember how very hard I and others fought the Time Limiting of ESA proposed in the Welfare Reform Bill. For me, it was the most disgusting proposal of all. We won an amendment in the House of Lords that promised "AT LEAST 2 years". But the government simply overturned it using financial privilege. 

The following real life story, beautifully written by Tricia Long, a supporter, shows why we were so right to fight and why the government MUST reconsider this terrible betrayal of sick and disabled people. For the 700,000 people estimated to be affected, just like Tricia, please share her story, it deserves to be told.

"I have epilepsy and experience 3-4 seizures a week which leave me tired, disorientated often emotional and quite vulnerable.

In between I attempt to maintain a “normal “ lifestyle but have obviously had to adapt this to take into account my seizures that have no real warning  signals or particular triggers, although they are exacerbated by stress and tiredness.

About a year ago, my long term Incapacity Benefit, which I had been receiving for a number of years, became Employment Support Allowance.

At the time I didn't fully understand the implications of this, in particular the time limited aspect of it, although I did feel the language set the tone of what this benefit represents.

I filled in my form and was duly placed in the work related activity group (WRAG). This surprised many people who know me and understand that my condition does not really make me fit for conventional employment.

However I was already becoming upset by the process of having to give the worst case scenario of my condition in order to “justify” my benefit and bought into the idea that perhaps this new policy would be enabling rather than disabling - many of the previous disability benefits had been - maybe this would be a positive thing.

I decided not to appeal the decision but grasp the potential opportunity it might offer me to support me into some employment.

I was very let down and disillusioned by what happened next. The tone of the letters I received from DWP were aggressive and seemed to assume that I was not working through choice rather than disability.
I was referred to a private job agency, JHP, and my experience just got worse.  I was by this stage becoming quite upset and angry by my experience but still felt that maybe it was not representative of the policy as a whole.

I was actually told by my support advisor that I was a bit of a “health & safety hazard”. It was obvious that JHP were still working on a job seeker allowance model.

At that time they certainly did not appear have anything in place to understand or help me with my individual barrier to work (mostly unconsciousness!).

They offered basic skills, basic computer work or a CV writing service. If these were all I needed then I would have been working already!

After some initial contact they seemed keen to emphasis the voluntary work I already do for AWP, our local mental health trust and encouraged me to put this down as self-employment. As I’m unpaid apart from occasional minimal expenses and coffee, this seemed unreasonable.

I have not heard from them more than a couple of times since and do feel let down; upset by the wasted opportunity and quite frankly the wasted public money.

I do believe that due to the “payment by results” model   I have become one of the many “parked” as a difficult-to-place-in-employment ESA client.

I think I had been living in a state of slight denial, as I had become increasingly aware of the iniquities of the welfare system and so called “reforms”.  I had used the anger this inspired get involved in social media and more mental health activities as and when my condition allowed. I heard many stories of people much worse off than myself and I forgot to worry about what was in store for me.

On the 12th March 2013 I received the dreaded brown envelope telling me that the new law (Welfare Reform Act, 2011) states I can only receive contributory ESA for 365 days - and mine were up on the 8th March 2013.

I was no longer entitled to this benefit. It is surely not beyond the ability of the DWP to send out these letters before payments actually stop or do they expect us to have a countdown diary?

The letter pointed out that if I live with someone who works 24 hours a week I will not qualify on income grounds.

Surely 24 hours at minimum wage would not be enough to be expected to support a disabled person as well as yourself? Who actually thought that bit of the policy out?  

My condition has not changed so therefore I presumably would still qualify on medical grounds. I feel incredibly let down by this process.

How can it be justifiable to remove my support after an arbitrary number of days decided by a politician not a doctor?

I feel devalued and quite despairing that I am now being judged merely on my ability to work conventionally. It feels like this policy is “one size fits all” and takes no consideration of the wide range of disabilities included in the apparently “fit to work with support” WRAG group.

It takes no account of the unpaid contributions I have made to society despite my disability.  

I have not recovered miraculously during this period or received any help to become ready for any sort of employment that might potentially support me - how can that be considered fair?  

My husband runs his own business. He is also bi-polar and at times experiences the mental health problems that go with this condition.

Together we manage to maintain a balance most of the time, but he has had to be hospitalised several times in the last few years when his symptoms got out of control.

He has never claimed benefit for this condition and when well, he pays a considerable amount of tax back into the economy. He must now manage his business, his own mental equilibrium and care for me when I’m unwell and can’t do much for myself.

When the phone call comes from the paramedics that I’ve had a seizure, he must drop everything or organise a rota of friends to step in when he can’t.  This he does willingly.

However added to this he is now totally financially responsible for me. In many ways I am lucky he is ok with this although I struggle with it very much as an individual. I feel it makes me dependant and not able to even contribute a little to my own living expenses.

I also worry it will add pressure on my husband’s mental state.  His condition makes him very functioning with a great need to achieve. I hope this will not tip the balance we work hard to achieve and result in a mental health reaction.

Quite frankly the DWP letter made me cry and I am not a crier. I generally cope well with most things life throws at me but admit I now feel very stressed and anxious.

I feel insecure and slightly out of my depth with what to do next.

I’m trying to be positive but have not slept well for the last few days and have experienced more seizures than normal for me. Surely this is not the “enabling” experience the government profess to want for those with long term health conditions?
This - like so many things - is very short sighted thinking. It may only result in moving cost from one budget to another. If I have more seizures, it will cost the NHS more. If my husband becomes more unwell as result of the additional pressure of caring for me, then the cost  will escalate still further as he will be unable to work and pay tax – possibly even needing more intensive mental health interventions.

And none of this even takes into account the non-financial but equally important cost to my self image as someone who is still living daily with a long term and quite frankly, disabling, condition.

I am quite resilient but do wonder about the effect it may have on my ability to continue to contribute to society in a positive way.

Surely this is not sensible policy? It seems to contradict the government mantra that “There is no health without mental health” and I feel strongly that the effect on many people will be profound and ultimately destructive.  

The only people who have benefitted from this at all as far as I can see are possibly JHP (and other private job agencies) being paid to provide a “not fit for purpose” service.

I recognise I am so much luckier than some as I don’t at the present time have to worry that it may take weeks to move my benefit from one type to another or how I will manage to live on no income in between.
I’m not destitute, but I do feel strongly that I represent a group of people who this policy has left feeling more disabled and devalued than ever before.

I am quite frankly afraid for both my future and the type of society we are creating for the most vulnerable in it. 


  1. Tricia, now that you aren't getting any money would you not consider reapplying for ESA to try and get into the support group where I believe you should be anyway. The 'Benefits and Works' guides are really helpful in filling in the forms, there is a subscription fee but I believe it is worth every penny and it is not that much, I think they may even have a discount offer on at the moment. Please think about it. I really feel for you.

    1. It's a tough one. I sympathise with those unfairly targeted by the changes and I do know people in this situation however but I also know personally of at least one person who is taking the mickey with regard to claiming the formerly incapacity and now ESA. My experience appears common amongst many people.
      The said person has been claiming for over 10 years for depression and anxiety of all things yet is a very keen socialiser. Only for GP's/Atos does he magically transform into a quivering helpless wreck strangely. Basically he and people like him are pulling the wool over our benefit system's eyes. He has never sought any form of treatment in all this time nor has he been made to. This is a lifestyle choice, agreed accustomed through long term experience but it is not right and people such as this need to be dealt with firmly without kid gloves. Once back into mainstream society I am sure they will appreciate the support just as one's legs get stronger through application.

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  2. So sorry to read of your story Tricia. I recognise so much of your struggle. This is the other ESA bomb that is starting to explode in people's lives: the Time Limit on the WRAG component of ESA for people who have a partner who works. People like yourself who won't show up on the massaged unemployment figures, who will struggle financially and worry about the added strain on their relationships.

    People who, despite their illness/disability, provide a great value to society via voluntary work and other contributions which aren't appreciated by a government that attaches a an economic price tag to everything and everyone.

    I doubt if their voters realise that many of the CAB workers or volunteers in their communities are the self-same "scroungers" of the government rhetoric.

    When we paid in national insurance I always thought it was to protect us individually and as a nation, should we have the misfortune to be born disabled, get ill/become disabled, become unemployed through no fault of our own. Not now it seems.

    I hope you can get some legal help to reapply if you can. You deserve better treatment than this and your story reminds us how important it is to fight back however we can.

  3. 365 days up all you get is NI contributions if not entitled to income related ESA. Many are not and just get NI with record of limited capability to work!
    Yes, Sue this is a crisis public should know and don't.

  4. This sums up the whole problem with the work related group, it should only be for those who genuinely and with proper consideration of their support needs be considered able to work with support.

    In Trisha's case this should be set out as employee who has suitable workplace or work from home and who os flexible enough with deadlines so if she is too ill to work Monday Tuesday Wednesday can try on Thursday. But in reality we know very very few jobs employees and indeed whole economy can't function on people being able to work one or two days a week.

    Mythical fantasies about employees, work load, time off sick is a total farce. There has to be a way to challenge theses claims better. Trisha will never be able to support herself by working and yet someone stamping yes she could is government fraud!

  5. sending you hugs for speaking out ..
    my partner has epilepsy and developed it at the age 14 he has grand mal tonic clonic cluster fits so instead of having maybe 1 fit every couple of weeks he will have 2 or 3 fits in one day that are massive and the result of this leaves him unable to function for 3/4 weeks following ...for the first week after he,ll sleep and sleep his body is sore and painfull he can not speak due to the ulcers hes got after biting his tongue ( has almost bit of his tongue a few times ) he cant walk without some one helping him .he cant lift a cup to drink from ...and theres so much more to it . he has no warning signs and there totally unpredictable .were now in the start up process of having to claim esa my partner is worried sick my partner has worked my years ago though and he has tried to get jobs but the company have stated to him ur too much of a health and safety risk and basically were not insured enough to cover you
    so hows my partner gonna get into work are they gonna pay someone to watch over him as he is deffinatly a risk /danger to himself and others
    hes taken fits crossing busy roads /in kitchen while carrying cups of tea and various other items he,s placed electric kettles on to a gas hob and turned gas on if it wasnt for people being around he,d be dead .hes memeory gets worse and worse each year and it can take 4 or 5 weeks to start remembering things that had happened even the day before a fit ...
    wishing u all the best hunni xxx

  6. Excellent post, Sue & Tricia. Good illustration of the problems with the 365 day time limit, which was enacted with no care or understanding of the practical consequences. The standard of impact assessment undertaken by DWP is appalling in every one of their policies.

  7. Wow that's awful to read of what you are going through and what your husband goes through (I have bipolar too so I understand) my heart goes out to you both it really does, it's bloody unfair what the government have done, it affects us disabled folk tremendously.
    Hugs and love xxx

  8. I've just read through the comments and it makes me want to cry.

    When you step back, how COULD someone with these kinds of fits support themselves financially? I mean, if you were very very luck and did some kind of well paid consultancy or freelance work, you might earn *some* money - but reliably?

    It's so frustrating and wrong. Jane's right. The Impact Assessments were laughable - or cryable not sure which applies best :((

  9. I hope that one day the likes of Cameron and IDS end up in court for the suffering they have caused. It's not just the suffering but people are taking their lives over this. I then read in the paper this morning just how much the conservatives are getting from bankers and alike. At the same time the sick and disabled are having help taken from them.

    Some how we must get the press onside and hit back hard

  10. Starving the economy means Osborne's banker chums can buy up the country's assets on the cheap. That's the reason austerity's imposed on us. Economically it's completely unjustifiable. The country, with many others, is being set up.

  11. I work as an ESA advisor, what letters have you received from the DWP that the tone was aggressive (the code for the letter will be In the bottom left corner). I sympathize with your health condition, it cannot be easy for you at all. In hindsight you should have been told to appeal to go Into the Support Group. Can you get a letter off your GP or hospital to back up you are not fit to work or that your health condition has worsened. If so get a GL24 (appeal form) from your local jobcentre. Also we have raised the issue just last week about people receiving the letter telling them their 365 days is up after the event. The letter should be sent at least 4 weeks beforehand. I can understand how this new rule of only receiving money for 1 year does affect you. But on the otherhand I have seen how for years the old benefit (IB) was open to such abuse. I have had a couple of instances of late of reassessment cases, claiming with post natal depression - the child is now 19 years old. Vomiting since 2001 ! The old system let people down, the new system is less open to abuse. As for the work programme, in my area the provider A4E have openly admitted there are over 200 people they are not working with as there Is in their opinion little chance if getting them into work. They want the job ready as this is where their big bucks lie. It is not fit for purpose & in a few months time the people who have been with them for 2 years will start having to work with jCP again, as they haven't met their promises & targets if getting people back into work within 2 years.

    1. You said post natal depression for 19 years?!! Vomiting for 12 years?? Why isnt this classed as fraud? Will the money ever get paid back.

      Its only the tip of the iceberg. Gaming the welfare system is a fine art and has far been too simple. These cases wouldnt be classed as fraud. If true cases were counted then the true cost will likely be several billion. e.g someone on welfare for years for back pain but then does everything but work. Isnt this fraud??

    2. If I had my way it would be fraud, but when they attend for their wfi's (work focused interviews) they then expand and add on different illnesses on top of the original illness as to why they made their claim.

  12. So sick and disabled people are supposed to run round to find paperwork, and appeal? Do people know what forms to ask for, or where to go to find help?
    I've had dealings with A4e, by the way, and I was distinctly unimpressed with them. They certainly didn't help me to find work in any way (and I'm able bodied and well qualified).

    1. No they dont have to run around & find paperwork, when someone fails a medical the BDC (Benefit Delivery Centre) make phone calls to the customer, if after 2 attempts they cannot get through to the customer a letter is sent. I says on the letter how to appeal.

  13. The system is inhumane and takes no account of personal circumstances. The sooner we can get rid of it the better.

  14. welcome to this shitte they give us into wrag only to find out you time limited and parked up as one cant be employed yep they thought that one out taught by Unum on this one we not fit to work but are ok to be put into wrag yep well and truly kippered unless one fights them trish come across to and find that with your new friends youl make will also show how to fight against this being parked up jeff3

  15. Hi Tricia

    I'm sorry to read your story, my own ESA also ended on the 8th March, I wasnt offered any help or interviews by the job centre until January, this was cancelled as I was on the bus there (and the journey was no mean feat for me) and the advisor didnt bother to call me until the week after my money stopped.

    Good luck for the future x

  16. I am so very sorry to read your story. This whole horrible subject, like the horrendous sanctioning deal needs to be brought to the forefront of the public's mind.There has to be a way to stop these terrible changes which leave people with no money at all. Here we are living in Great Britain with a prime minister keen to send billions abroad and £53 million every single day to the EU, yet people here are starving, struggling and have to go to food banks for food! Great Britain, 2013

  17. The public need to see the reality of what is happening with stories like these. That these changes are not just affecting the oh so stereotyped feckless scroungers and fraudulent scammers - it is the genuine who are being hit the hardest and who in fact are the intended targets!

    Unfortunately I see a similar situation in my future. Im currently going through the IB-ESA migration and am waiting for my WCA (if they bother giving me one and dont just WRAG me without any assessment). If I do end up in the WRAG my life will be affected badly.
    I will have to find some way of coping with a system that can mandate me to work unpaid when they know I cannot work at all, insist on interviews they know I cannot attend, have targets to sanction me for anything possible, and will limit me to 1yr of support because my partner works.

    If I remember right the cut off is 24hrs/£8500 per year that your spouse/partner can earn and then you lose your ESA.
    How can that be enough to support two people, one of whom is known as disabled, to live on?
    Why am I essentially going to be considered nothing more than an addendum to my partner?
    The strain on our finances will be significant. Losing my ESA wouldnt make me less disabled nor make that disability any cheaper to cope with. One year will not cure a massive number of the conditions and illnesses suffered by those who are placed in the WRAG. My partner is still my carer and spends every day from 6pm to 6am and 24hrs on sat/sun caring for me but because he works he is already penalised and unrecognised by Carer's Allowance. It doesnt mean he does less to look after me. Putting him under strain impacts on both of us - costing the NHS more and the treasury more when he needs time off to care for me more.

    What have I got to look forward to? A test which is designed to fail me or find the tiniest scrap of ability to claim makes me employable.
    If anyone knows of a job that pays a livable wage, provides a full time carer, doesnt mind my lack of continence, concentration, memory or attendance, and only involves what I will be tested on - moving an empty box once/pick up a pound coin once/raise my hands above my head once - I'd love to take it! Alas I fear I'd be in a long queue with the rest of the disabled folks who have been found fit for the same job!

    I've said it so many times and it must be repeated until people actually hear it.
    Removing the funding does not remove the need!

    1. A lot of IB reassessment customers are not sent for a WCA but a decision is made of the info that you put on the ESA50 (medical questionnaire). This is due to the massive backlog of cases. If you are put in the WRAG & you feel this isn't correct you have the right to appeal. But forget IB, it was not fit for purpose, left people to rot & were forgotten about. ESA is about what you can do not what you cant, everyone on his forum who have replied can obviously use a computer, but yet state, "Im too ill to work".

    2. Derek wrote, "everyone on his forum who have replied can obviously use a computer, but yet state, 'Im too ill to work'."

      And Derek is an ESA adviser? This is the type of lazy thinking which we are up against?

    3. Not lazy thinking, just stating the obvious. I worked with a lady who was totally blind, brought her guide dog to work. She used a computer taking benefit claims.

    4. I stand by my comment. You are guilty of lazy thinking. Even people who are as ill as Sue, or who have cluster headaches or other very, very incapacitating conditions are not always too ill to use computers. That does not mean that they are well enough to work.

    5. Derek has falling into the same simple minded thinking that ATOS use in the WCA. No, people here havent proven that they 'can obviously use a computer' which apparently implies that they arent to ill to work. What they, and I, have shown is that they are capable of occasionally posting a comment on a blog. Do you know of any jobs that pay you to post a comment maybe once or twice a week as and when I may happen to be capable of doing so?
      Much that same as ATOS as I stated - do you know any jobs where I can lift an empty box just the once when Im well enough? Pick up a coin? Raise my hands above my head?

      Its little more than a snapshot of what the person may be able to do at that very moment but tells you nothing of how they will be the next day or the next week, what it cost them to do the action you are judging them on and what they will pay for it later, and certainly not if there is any possibility of employment arising from that snapshot.

      And no.... I wasnt 'rotting' on IB. Nor was I 'festering' or 'abandoned' as it has been claimed. And forcing me and many many others through a flawed test, a sanction target ridden system, forced unpaid work, months of appeals, and endless stress and fear - thats not 'helping' either.

  18. get them out get them out now i cannot stand this government

  19. Thank you for all your supportive comments & e mails about my first blog written with the encouragement of Sue

  20. I am really sorry to hear of your situation, My ESA runs out in June and I have no way of bettering my situation before then or of being accepted into the support group. I really identify with what you say regarding your hopes that the system would be an enabling excercise instead of a punitive one. I have got my first work focussed interview this week and I am at a complete loss as to how to move forward. I really hope that better times are ahead for you and your husband and empathise with your situation entirely, Good Luck, Jasmin

  21. If theres one thing that this welfare reform program has shown its that huge swathes of the population have been living very comfortable lives at other peoples expense. Now that their standard of living may be knocked down a peg or two they are coming out of the woodwork and complaining to the rafters about it.

    Where is the incentive to work when you are better off not to? Why bother grafting to afford a mortgage when you can get better quality housing paid for by the taxpayer for life?

    For too long its been a question of simply saying I want benefit and getting it too easily. Other ways are opening your legs and having kids indiscriminately to get a guaranteed free house and pocket money to boot.

    The morals of this country are seriously wrong that allow so many millions to live on welfare easily. That housing association got it spot on to keep the roof over your heard it may involve a bit less bingo or the downgrading of your sky package.

    Oh dear is that what Britain is about? What you can get out of the system not what you contribute?

    Why is something always someone elses problem? If you dont have enough money for rent or food GET a job!! Its not hard. It may involve cleaning hotel rooms or working in a factory or doing some graft you have never been used to because you have always been used to free money being given to you but tough. There are jobs available, get off your backside and do one. The easy times end now.

    If you want a bigger house why should the state provide you one? Get a job and EARN one. The incentives on welfare need to end. Far too many see welfare as being obliged to look after them as they cant be bothered to. What a farce.

    1. Well said @7b ... I have illnesses, graves disease, spondylosis in my neck, im perm. exausted, I'm a f.t single parent, but I work full time. This enables me to own my own home & car, and provide days out, treats etc for my son. Work or claim benefits ... its a no-brainer. Work, work, work, give my son the best. Why sit at home every day feeling sorry for myself & expecting the world to owe me a living. Get a grip people, life's what you make it, sit at home moaning you have nowt or get off your lazy backsides, get a job & have a better standard of life. As good examples look at the service personnel in Afghan & the horrific injuries a lot have sustained, now amputees but it doesnt stop most of them from working or tremendous voluntary work. There's always someone worse off than you.

    2. Derek, please explain how my disabled wife is supposed to choose the option of work over benefits? She cannot do ANYTHING without help. Cannot sit up, cannot use the lavatory, cannot wash, cannot dress. Who would employ her? To do what? Will they employ her carer, the person who would actually do the work? (She can direct them: her voice works, and she is mentally sound.) She did not choose her disabling illness, and she did not choose not to work. Just like you. When your condition worsens, you will not choose to give up work -- it will be your only option.

    3. Am astonished to see a response like from Derek. It is incredibly rare as so many millions are entrenched in the welfare game and have been for generations.

      The idea of earning their own money is an alien concept. Hence they just write 'what if they stop MY money?' Hmm get a job then it will be your money not until then. Until then stop expecting others to fund your existence.

    4. Daniel, I am not saying your wife has to work, there are a lot of genuine ESA claims, and by the sounds of things your wife is a genuine case. I dont know your or her circumstances, whether she is on SDA, IB or ESA, but chances are she will be in the Support Group. Also I didn't choose my illnesses either, I am in constant pain 24/7 but I dont let my illnesses beat me. Some people who have disabilities it is out of their control I understand that.

  22. @7b263c00-90a3

    "I am not a free man! I am a number!"

    You did not answer my question a few weeks ago. You did not answer it again a few days ago. So I ask again:

    Do you in fact believe that sick and disabled people are right to claim their entitlements, and that the cheats you are so fascinated by have nothing at all to do with the good, decent and honest people on this forum?

    "If you dont have enough money for rent or food GET a job!!"

    Please get it through your unbelievably thick head that people on this forum are sick and disabled. Probably all of us worked for many years before illness or disability took away the abilities and capacities that so many people (obviously including you) take so completely for granted. We really do want to work. Some of us work a bit, and also have entitlements to support in respect of the difficulties we face.

    You must realise that you come across as a very nasty person, someone who is both utterly stupid and utterly contemptuous of people suffering real difficulties. You appear to be heartless and intentionally cruel, someone who actually likes the pain they can cause to others, and perhaps enjoys watching the pain that others do. This is a major shortcoming on your part, for you have failed as a human being.

    All you have is ignorance and insults. God help the poor sods who have to put up with you in daily life. Hopefully, there aren't any, they would only stay with you if they are as stupid as you.

    You have nothing to contribute. Come back cap in hand when your back is broken, or when your darling private GP gives you that fateful diagnosis. Come back when you have any sort of legitimacy to be here. Come back when you have found out how to be human.

  23. Great post Daniel but sadly it will fall on deaf ears as trolls are inhuman, they will say anything to get attention and a reaction to their comments. Best to just ignore them, that is their greatest fear. By interacting with them you give them exactly what they want.

  24. Looks like the troll has made up another persona to pretend there is now more than one person who is on his side.

    I have said it before and I will say it again, if this was my blog, I would not have this unkind and disruptive nonsense upsetting people, giving a platform to cruel, inhumane views, I would delete all posts that attempted to do this, and if they came back as someone else to try and slip one in under the radar, I would just zap their posts out of existence before they ever saw the light of day.

    1. I agree, LightWhiteFeathers. If it was my choice, I would deny access to this troll. The purpose of this forum is for people to support each other, not to fight disruptive interlopers.

      Derek is perhaps a fool. There is nothing stopping him claiming his entitlements AND working at the same time. That he does not is no credit to him, especially as a reduced household income will be detrimental to his son -- the person whose welfare is supposed to motive his determination to keep working.

    2. LightWhiteFeathers, I can assure you I am not nor know @7b263. I came onto this site after a friend posted a comment & link on facebook. After being in the job I have been in for years, I have met a lot of lying benefit cheats, they do indeed ruin it for the genuine. If you heard or witnessed half of what I have you would possiby understand a little.

    3. Also Daniel, I do not understand your comment "Derek is perhaps a fool. There is nothing stopping him claiming his entitlements AND working at the same time. That he does not is no credit to him, especially as a reduced household income will be detrimental to his son -- the person whose welfare is supposed to motive his determination to keep working". I have not stated on here other than I work, own my own home & car, have illnesses & am a f.t single parent. How do you deduce by this what benefits I do or do not claim? FYI I claim child benefit, child & working tax credits. Is that ok by you??

    4. @Derek: “I'm a f.t single parent, but I work full time. This enables me to own my own home & car, and provide days out, treats etc for my son. Work or claim benefits ... its a no-brainer. Work, work, work, give my son the best.”

      You give the strongest impression that you have chosen work instead of benefits, and hint no less strongly that you have a dim view of benefit claimants. Then you admit that:

      “FYI I claim child benefit, child & working tax credits. Is that ok by you??”

      So you are yourself in receipt of social security benefits! As you should be! You are receiving your entitlements, as we all should. Good on you.

      But please respect other people, who are doing exactly the same as you, and claiming what they are entitled to.

  25. Daniel he's living in Cloud Cuckoo Land and is not going to change track. He's probably one of IDS'S friends as they have a lot in common

    1. Cloud Cuckoo Land it most certainly is. I am not replying for the benefit of the troll -- he is already lost to evil. I am writing for everyone else, to show that responses are possible and also needed, perhaps when we talk to bigoted friends or relatives. All we have is argument and the determination to maintain an unbreakable solidarity. The welfare of those on this forum matters at least as much as it matters for everyone else. Our entitlements are everyone else's entitlements (even the troll's), and we fight for everyone in this God-forsaken land as much as we fight for ourselves.

      Alas, some able-bodied people do not realise that they are disabled people waiting to happen. For anyone, the very next trip down the stairs (or trip to the doctor's) can be the start of living with disability.

  26. Everyone on here can read and write has basic skills and should be able to contribute. The definition of sick and disabled is so vague and twisted that millions have twisted it for their own benefit.

    So now things like acne, obesity, fibromyalgia, ME are classed as disability. In countries with no benefits fibromyalgia and ME dont exist. What does that say about them??

    Sick and disabled is a vague term. Hence as mentioned above people can claim for vomiting since 2001!!

    Also what about those families where noone is sick or disbaled? They just simply dont want to work or are better off not to e.g 1 parent families. They live in housing that working families can never afford! How is that fair? Luckily the balance is turning in favor of work vs welfare.

    There is no incentive to work at the moment that is the tragedy. Why do we have 2 million so called unemployed but then equivalent numbers of migrant workers from Eastern Europe. Not one person above dares to answer this paradox. Why dont the lazy Brits do these jobs instead of moaning they are here? If you did those jobs they wouldnt be here but you dont fancy the idea of cleaning a hotel toilet do you when sitting on your butt watching TV all days sounds a better option right?

    Even the scholar Danny has avoided this issue. There are jobs there its just people dont want to do them. Accept that first. The definition of sick and disabled is so open to abuse hence that is why levels of claims have risen beyond all recognition. There are plenty on long term benefits who are neither sick or disabled e.g the alcoholic who just spends his benefit on more alcohol he is classed as sick but why when its his own fault?

    1. Oh dear. Perhaps somebody could point out to Mr Long-Number that there is no actual evidence of anyone whatsoever being on benefits solely because of having acne. But then again, he's probably not interested in, you know, facts.

  27. AOL opaque identifier and his other newly minted psuedonym Derek are both right: life just gets better and better for disabled people:

    What with a booming economy (0.2% growth anyone!), loads and loads of well paid jobs, employers just falling over themselves to employ people with disablities, the rich getting such generous tax breaks and bonuses to donate to the poor through their offshore accounts, this country is booming!

    Why just the other day I had to turn down a job in order to remain on benefits and live the life of a lord on £70pw. Once my bills are out of the way I've got £30 to spend on copious amounts of booze, fags and Sky TV, oh, and bingo (I don't bother with food).

    Of course the Daily Mail and the other sensationalist rags, I mean newspapers, don't realise we've all got credit cards and generous loan sharks, I mean operators, to help us live lives in the lap of luxury.

    Yes, life is so wonderful on benefits and with no sign of a recession we can keep on scounging away without the government creating even more hoops for us to jump through, even more sanctions and rules to send us deeper into poverty and the wonderful Daily Mail to supply us with daily tales of single mothers and people with imaginary ailments having a lifestyle fit for Kings.

    1. Again just answer the question you all avoid why are there 2 million + unemployed Brits here and yet equivalent numbers of Eastern european migrants working here? Answer the paradox please!!

    2. You're kidding me aren't you!?! You seriously want to debate with me? Myself and others have had you for breakfast on many occasions: you're such easy meat, what with your idle generalisations, tabloid myths and obnoxious rants!

      Anyway, what has your question got to do with diasability? This is a blog for disabilty rights and fighting the pernicious government cuts targeted at already vulnerable and struggling people. If you can't see that then you're so far removed from reality that debating with you is futile. I'd rather just mock your foolish, ignorant comments thank you very much.

  28. Dear Blimey,

    I wish I knew Derek but sadly I dont. You are probably amazed he works right when he doesnt have to? More fool him right? Thats why you think he doesnt exist.

    Wake up Danny this is the reality for millions

    Housing Benefit: £1,400
    Council tax £152
    Tax Credits £403

    Employment and Support
    Allowance £394
    School travel expenses £180
    Dental/eye care/school trips £200
    Eldest child's university fees £292
    Eldest child's book bursary £67

    From October 2013 this will include:
    Second child's university fees £750
    second child's book bursary £67
    Total income: £3,905.00 per month

    Where is the sickness or disability here Danny? There isnt any!! Its sheer bone idleness. Thats what it is. She says she cant afford to work and blames the Government for leaving her like this!

    Danny you fail to grasp why working people are so irate at the moment. Well the Government should put her out of her misery then and stop all her benefits then who could she blame? Herself perhaps?

    Is it any wonder this country is going nowhere? No doubt Danny will try and put a positive spin for people like her or somehow justify it.

    Lets see

  29. the story is complete fiction and should be dismissed as it does not apply to today as the benefit cap is now £26000
    even so only a very few people were getting £70000 plus per year these were normally street cleaners working in London on the minimum wage who became sick hence the very high entitlement of the rent of £5000 per month which the tax payer had to pay as the streets need to be cleaned etc

  30. Nick some info about the benefit cap:
    Households that aren't affected by the cap

    The cap won’t apply to households where a partner or any dependant child qualify for Working Tax Credit or receive any of the following:
    Disability Living Allowance
    Personal Independence Payment
    Attendance Allowance
    Industrial Injuries Benefits
    Employment Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
    Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
    War Pension Scheme payments (including War Widow’s/Widower’s Pension and War disablement Pension).

    1. thanks Derek
      the point i was trying to make is that this type of storey is common when the newspaper pays you money for a story

      if i asked them to help me the answer has always been no as i need help that's the difference one person like this family sells papers where a story like mine would go completely unnoticed and left to die a very big difference and tells you everything about the country

      no newspaper will report my type of story of abuse that i have suffered over many years by the DWP

      thankfully my Tory mp keeps a eye on me and without him i would have died years ago but even he gets it in the neck for helping me so it's very tough out their and if you step to far out of line I'm sure you would meet with a untimely death from the powers that be

  31. Derek wrote, "look at the service personnel in Afghan & the horrific injuries a lot have sustained, now amputees but it doesnt stop most of them from working or tremendous voluntary work. There's always someone worse off than you."

    Oh. So, volunteer work is important when it is done by former service personnel. But when it is done by civilians, politicians pretend it doesn't exist, because it doesn't fit in with their lies about claimants sitting around all day watching Jeremy Kyle (and dreaming of being interviewed and reprimanded by him).

  32. From the Guardian:

    Five disabled people are in court today, seeking to take the government's decision to scrap the independent living fund to judicial review. I have a good feeling about it; I can picture Iain Duncan Smith, stomping away from reporters in a fortnight's time, looking like he has a mouthful of ash, clarifying huffily: "We haven't lost, we merely didn't win."

    But while awaiting the verdict, let's recap: this fund is worth £320m a year, is run through the Department for Work and Pensions, and is there to make it possible for people with severe disabilities to live in the world, rather than in one room. About 18,000 people are on it; without it, they'd be reliant on the local authority care package. Anne Pridmore, who has cerebral palsy, remembers that the last time she was surviving on only what her local authority would provide, she had to have a hysterectomy because they wouldn't fund anyone to keep her clean. Mary Lavers, who has had rheumatoid arthritis for 25 years, has seen what her council's care package looks like; it doesn't have enough visits in it for loo breaks, so she'd end up sitting on a wet incontinence pad for much of the day.

    The DWP's defence is that the money will be passed on to local authorities, but it isn't ringfenced, so they could spend it on anything. That isn't intended as a slur on local government – they are the most squeezed by "austerity", indeed, the cuts only seem to be hitting the benefits bill and local authorities. Well over half of a council's budget goes on adult and children's social care, which is what disability support comes under. By 2015, councils will have taken a 41% cut on average, and this money will overwhelmingly have been cut from social care budgets.

    Consequences are everywhere you look – Kensington and Chelsea council has already been taken to court for reducing the night carer allowance on a young woman's package, telling her to use incontinence pads instead (she wasn't incontinent). The decision was fought all the way up to the supreme court, where it was upheld. One of the trustees of a major charity had her carer budget reduced and could no longer attend trustee meetings.

    1. (continued from above) - It is pretty obvious to most disabled people, and indeed to most local authorities, that the ILF money – if it does come to local authorities – will not be maintained for its current purpose. There's a £1bn shortfall even now between what councils can provide for disabled people and what the law requires of them (they're covering this by reducing care allowances for moderately disabled people, but they can't prune that back for ever). The £320m will most likely just disappear into that black hole.

      It could not be plainer: times are bad for local authorities, and disastrously bad for disabled people. This isn't about Atos assessments and the people on a knife-edge of eligibility criteria because some box-ticker decides they're not trying hard enough (though those people are having a tough time too). This isn't about the bedroom tax (though that's bad enough). This is about the most severely disabled people in society, people whose disability brooks no ambiguity, having money stripped from them until they can no longer live dignified, fulfilling, stimulating lives.

      Disabled people with the greatest needs make up 2% of the population, and yet they are weathering 15% of the cuts. By 2015, the combination of measures targeting this group will amount to losing more than £8,000 each a year. It's the difference between being a trustee of one of the country's most dynamic charities, and having to go to bed at 5.45pm – because that's when your 15 minutes of care has been allocated.

      At first glance, it looks as though the Treasury and the DWP between them have simply decided that they can no longer afford dignity in disability. But the alternative is no cheaper. Simply on a practical level, if people aren't looked after properly their needs increase. If they don't have the basic support they need to socialise, they lose a lot of the additional support, that free emotional and practical support that we call "having friends". They get depressed. They get bedsores. They need district nurses and mental health services. They will end up in residential homes, the solution which has the distinction of being both the most expensive and the most feared.

      But the expense is even greater when you consider what you lose as a society: each of the people going to court today has had an active life, as enriching to their communities as it has been fulfilling to them. They've done jobs and voluntary work and fought campaigns and won them; they've brought other people into the thick of society who would otherwise have been isolated. There is a kind of Keynesianism of human energy, where every one person who thrives generates possibilities for someone else.

      Saving money in this area does not save real money, therefore; it saves wooden dollars, which pop up as a cost elsewhere, and the political statement is much deeper than "we can no longer afford disability rights". The political statement, here, is "we can no longer afford for people to be disabled".

      This is a massive shift in perspective from any political party, let alone one in government – and before they go any further along this path, whether they lose this judicial review or not, it's time to ask: well then, what's your plan? What's your plan for these people whose lives we apparently can't afford?

      • This article was amended on 14 March 2013. It originally referred to Kensington and Chelsea council losing a court case over a reduction of night carer allowance. In fact the supreme court ruled in the council's favour. This has now been corrected.

    2. Quote from above - "Saving money in this area does not save real money, therefore; it saves wooden dollars, which pop up as a cost elsewhere". The cost will not just be in money, it will be in human lives.

  33. Don't forget to watch Breadline Britain on ITV tonight at 7.30 - summary below.

    ‘Breadline Britain’
    By Stephen Crossley

    Tomorrow evening, Thursday 28th March, at 7:30pm, the Tonight programme on ITV will provide the first look at the results of the Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey 2012 – the largest survey of poverty ever conducted in the UK, led by University of Bristol and involving academics from five other universities across the U.K.

    The research team hope it will be a strong, sympathetic portrayal of life on a low income in the UK today. They also hope it will challenge some of the myths put around by the Government and much of the media about recipients of welfare benefits. The TV listings suggest that a focus of the programme is likely to be the circumstances of the working poor – those families who are in employment but are living in shocking conditions and feel socially excluded.

    A short summary report will be available from the PSE website tomorrow evening from 6pm: There are lots of excellent resources and reports on the website and you can sign up for their e-newsletter here

    Please share this information with colleagues, friends and family. It will hopefully be an excellent opportunity to provide a counter explanation to some of the rhetoric that we hear from some politicians about the reasons why people live in poverty in the UK today.

    1. You see, the issue is that benefits don't pay too much, it's that work does not pay enough. Meanwhile, the rich just get richer.

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  35. can someone please correct me on this point in that if your placed in the WRAG group and your benefit stops as your not fit for work and are sanctioned as you do comply with the rules for ESA/JSA but on appeal you are indeed classed as unfit for work and then placed in the support group 1 year later do you receive a full 1 years refund of benefit for error in the first place ?

    I'm currently going through the transfer from IB to ESA with the help from my MP and NHS care worker and are just trying to tie up some loose ends in case i end up in the WRAG group and will be without much income for a year or so with the stress likely to cause my death as i will be too underweight and not be able to move at all which will probably kill me

    My Tory mp is concerned also well he says he is'for myself I'm none to good both physically and mentally and feel I'm in the lap of the gods and will be thinking of you all

    If i fail to show up here at any time then i will have died and sue will be informed by my wife but in the meantime we all of us here have to press on in uncharted waters and do whatever we can to help each other

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. ESA wrag pays £99.15 p.w, S.G pays £105.05 p.w, if your rate of IB is more you stay on your IB rate. If after reassessment your are placed in wrag & you disagree, you put in an appeal for the s.g the jobcentre will still want to see you for mandatory work focused interviews as until your appeal hearing you are still in the wrag. Myself & my colleagues generally keep in touch via telephone interviews until the appeal has been heard (which is taking anywhere up to 6 months). We use our discretion & dont insist on customers doing anything until the appeal. If you are put into the s.g then you chose whether to work with jobcentre on a voluntary basis. If you chose not to you are left alone for however long you stay in the s.g. Your money doesn't run out after 12 months if in the s.g. If after the hearing the tribunal insists the wrag is the right decision then you will have to attend work focused interviews & start taking steps so that in time you will get back into a working environment, or you will be sanctioned & will lose £71.00 p.w. If you are a conts based customer you only receive 12 months worth of money, if you qualify you can apply for an income related claim. If you don't qualify you become credits only & as In s.g interviews ate voluntary not mandatory.
    Example 1 new claim to ESA - £71.00 p.w, has wca & is found fit, puts in an appeal & wins goes Into the wrag - £99.15 they are given arrears, .£28.15 the diff between the two rates which would be from the 14th week of the claim (as until week 14 everyone who claims esa is on basic rate of £71 p.w) until the hearing date. Which is generally seeing a lot of people being paid £1200+ in arrears, as these hearing are taking approx 12 months to be heard.
    Example 2 you are on IB go for reassessment medical & found fit you put in an appeal you will be paid at £71.00 p.w basic ESA, not your old IB rate. If you win your appeal either wrag or s.g you will then be paid at the above mentioned rates, not your old IB rate.

    1. thanks derek
      so in my instance Example 2
      you are on IB go for reassessment medical & found fit you put in an appeal you will be paid at £71.00 p.w basic ESA,until the appeal is heard ? not your old IB rate. If you win your appeal either wrag or s.g you will then be paid at the above mentioned rates, not your old IB rate plus backdated to the beginning of the start claim date ?

    2. Yes you got it Nick, hope all goes your way at your medical (but bear in mind a lot of reassessment cases aren't going to a medical, they are being assessed off the ESA50 (medical questionnaire) so put as much on there as you can, continue on a separate sheet if needed. It wont harm to get a letter off your G.P to send with it too.

    3. thanks once again Derek you've been most helpful

      I've been through many battles with the dwp over the past 30 years or so but as I've got older I'm very weak and the will to live has vanished and my mind has got very muddled as my weight is so very low and I'm just a bag of bones

      It's very unlikely win or lose this battle with the DWP i will recover as i don't have the strength to eat at this time so I'll be in the lap of the gods now in going forward

      The dwp wrote a letter to me with a 14 day deadline saying they would call me at home but they haven't so I'm to call them trouble is they don't answer the phone and after every hour of hanging on the calls drops so my wife has to start again from 8am till 6pm not good at all

      so i will get sanctioned at the first hurdle i guess as I've failed to make contact with them down in the plymouth office

      my time limit runs out on Wednesday so will call an internal number i got from my mp just to say that the security phone there using down in plymouth is working but is not being answered with the message that the lines are very busy

      i will update you on how much progress i make
      thanks once again Derek for your help

    4. Nick what letter have you received with a 14 day deadline. You could write to the address at the top of the letter explaining they were supposed to call you & they didn't, and ask how you are supposed to get through & speak to someone when tge telephony system is not work. Also put on a day & time for them to ring you at home. I really am curious as to what this letter is.

    5. it's on a letter with a code IBMOI Derek
      breekwater road
      PL95 BBL
      0845 6088715
      I'M HOME 24/7 and no one's called as yet
      i cant write as my hand shakes and my wife doesn't write English only Arabic
      i will try to see if my mp can make contact

    6. I shall check out the letter code tomorrow, the 1st part of it IBM could be Incapacity Benefit Migration, but as for the OI I'm stumped, Once I've found what the letter is I'll be able to get you a telephone number for whichever department sent it. (one you'll be able to get through on). I shall post a reply for you tomorrow.

    7. thanks Derek any internal number would be a blessing if you can get hold of one and thanks

    8. Hi Nick, the letter is nothing for you to worry about, it is a standard letter sent out (if unable to contact you by phone) to let you know your claim is going to be reassessed to see if you qualify for ESA. You DO NOT have to reply to the letter. You will in due course be receiving the medical questionnaire form (ESA50) put as much on there as you can. Good luck

  38. I wasn't put on the £71 assessment rate at all, I was told that if I had been appealing to go into the WRAG rather than the SG then I would get the assessment rate but as I was appealing against their decision to put me into the WRAG and not the SG then I'm not entitled to any benefit from now until I eventually get a date for the hearing of the appeal. So you don't automatically get the £71 a week assessment rate as it mentions on the info on the website about how to fill in your appeal etc. However if (when! Trying to stay positive! :D) I win the appeal then they will have to backdate my claim at the full rate from when it ended on 21st Feb 2013. Fingers crossed then.

    1. You wont get the £71 assessment rate when appealing a wrong decision anymore due to clause 99 of the Welfare Reform Bill which comes into force this month.

      Under the new rules the DWP will not allow you the right to lodge an appeal straight away and instead you must go through a mandatory reivew period - this is basically having a different decision maker look over your case, get more info if needed, and decide if a different response is warranted.
      Problem for us is that the review period is unpaid and has no time limits on it so can potentially leave very vunerable people without any income for months while they wait to enter the appeal system.

      You will also have to lodge your appeal directly with the HM courts/Tribunal services as DWP wont do that on your behalf any more. You will also not have any access to Legal Aid as that has been cut as of this month.

  39. So rewind to recap..

    Your husband is self employed and has a successful business.

    tbh - What exactly are you complaining about?

  40. £71, hah, your lucky. my flatmate gets £56 as he is too young to get any more. having asked the DWP why younger people get less, they said it is because young people normally live with other young people. in my experience this is normally only because we are forced to. he has an autism spectrum disorder, and can be very difficult to live with (he has bitten me, broken my things, called me all sorts of names, and hit me, all without meaning to because of his autistic meltdowns), and could not stay with his parents following abuse. £56 a week is not enough to pay the bills and feed him, let alone pay for basic communication aids and courses so he can communicate with others, or pay for a carer so i can go out and have a life, or god forbid a career (i am now full time carer, even though i didn't expect to be when we moved in together). his DLA just about covers a couple of hours of care a week, so i still cannot have a life.
    he has had 3 jobs in the past 4 years, each of which has been lost due to a lack of disability support. between us we are still trying to find him a job he can do, and the support to keep that job.



  41. And this story is for real. People like this exist and as i read the paper everyday
    it seems like there are a lot of them. Society is scary but accident attorney utah
    is not deserb to men.

  42. Welfare Reform Act, 2011 affected many lives, that was sad.

  43. I have epilepsy and foolishly chose my sister to be my appointee. But despite doing a biology course, she thinks having both a genetic condition and epilepsy is easy. She thinks once I was given medication for the epilepsy that that is the end of the matter, no more problems.
    No tiredness, no confusion, no seizures.
    She truly believes these Tory measures harm nobody.
    She received the same letter as you saying my ESA is ending. As you can imagine, stress is a trigger so this doesn't help.
    If a sister cannot see the harm this does to her own brother because of her biased views then what hope does the rest of the world have?

  44. Thank you for posting such a great article. Keep it up mate.

    jkpaysys gov in salary slip

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