Tuesday, 2 April 2013

28. Days later

Yesterday was supposed to be benefits Armageddon according to Polly Toynbee of the Guardian and the BBC: in which the mindless recipients of thousands of pounds in benefits and who simply can’t think or act for themselves, and the homeless would stalk our land, dying in silence and resorting to cannibalism in order to survive…

Benefit cuts: Monday will be the day that defines this government
Those on low incomes, after all the vicious talk dismissing them as cheats and idlers, will be hit by an avalanche of cuts… and so on and so forth…

   I’ve worked in benefits for nearly ten years. So sue me.

   I read about 100 case files a week. I’ve interviewed or been quizzed in person at our offices by hundreds of claimants and spoken to many hundreds more (thousands, in fact) on the phone – many of them receiving Disability Living Allowance.

In all that time I’ve seen one guide dog, one set of crutches and one stump where a severed thumb used to be.

    I continue to read files and talk with customers who’ve borne children while they’ve been receiving Disability Living Allowance and /or Incapacity Benefit – and not just once but multiple times. Or big, healthy people who have ‘anger issues’ that consist of trying to intimidate benefits staff into sympathizing with them and paying up despite whatever lack of evidence they are in the office for. And then there are the ‘depressives’ who manage to survive for months after they stop claiming main benefits for subsistence without work or savings or income of any sort but who somehow don’t starve and freeze but who still need to have their rent and Council Tax paid. How do the most vulnerable in society do that if they aren’t very thrifty and resourceful? If they are thrifty and resourceful, how can they be vulnerable?
   Then there are the alcoholics and other addicts who till recently got more pay than the unemployed in order to, presumably, avoid the requirement to look for work but about 30 quid a week extra can buy a few bottles or maybe some drugs. That was Incapacity Benefit before it was more or less replaced by Employment Support Allowance.
Some people receive DLA because they have ‘panic attacks’ – which when you interview them turns out to mean they hate it when someone sends them on work experience or asks them to attend work training… or any kind of appointment.
   There are also genuinely sad cases out there for whom proper psychiatry might help (but not necessarily enable them to work soon or indeed ever), and of course some people do get injured or otherwise sick so Incapacity Benefit/DLA/ESA are temporarily needed and I’d not like the disabled element of Universal Credit to disappear. And it won’t. That would be and is a safety net. I don’t resent a penny of tax that goes to keep  them alive, fed and housed.
   But so many uninjured people have ‘issues’ it seems obvious that doctors have been handing out disability assessments more or less wholesale, and that has helped to create a permanently non-working ‘disabled’ welfare caste who do not even have to seek work.
   They aren’t imaginary. They aren’t a tiny minority – they are a hard core on the scrounge and they are taking scarce and shrinking resources away from people who actually need medical or welfare payment help and the taxpayers who might otherwise get to keep and spend their own hard-earned money on themselves and their families. Some are hoarding bedrooms built and financed by local government to house people instead of ‘a lifetime’s memories.’ It’s not ‘demonizing’ them; it’s called actually meeting them.
    One third of Northern Ireland’s working age Incapacity Benefit recipients were ‘incapacitated’ until Incapacity Benefit was phased out? I didn’t know the IRA was that effective. Or that the Coalition could do wholesale biblical miracles.  
    There’s a welfare aristocracy out there that needs to be abolished, and it’s a pity that (as seems likely in this bureaucratic day and age) ATOS is going the tick-box route, but ‘disability’ is a way of life for those shameless enough to claim it.
   It’s being stopped, and though I won’t be voting for the Conservatives (probably ever) and haven’t done so for years, at least they are doing something.

Picture from here.


James Higham said...

What other route did you think an organization like ATOS would go, NNWer?

DJ said...

Leftists always - always - overbid.

If Labour had argued that these changes were too arbitrary and bound to hit the innocent, they might have had a winning argument, but instead they had to insist there was no such thing as welfare fraud and anyone who said otherwise was clearly some kind of Nazi.

Given that pretty much everyone in the real world knows at least one guy who's involved in transportation of the urine, Labour's position boils down to telling the public 'who you gonna believe? Us or your lying eyes'?


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