I’m thinking of last winter, a snow-blurred landscape and my agonisingly permanently cold blue feet, painful hands, the shaming underweight lecture from my consultant: “eat much more and you must keep warm with raynauds” she said. I told her I couldn’t do both, and she looked at me uncomprehendingly, though she usually understood me.
French readers of Le Monde get to read an interview with three disabled people regarding the Work Capability Assessments by Atos and the fear it engenders in those who are at risk of being forced to attend them. I think the translation of the article into English has been done with one of the online text translation tools but, as Jayne says in her intro, it is still readable and understandable even if a little difficult to parse because of grammar and pronoun irregularities.
I wonder how many disabled people there are who, until hearing about the Welfare Reform Bill, didn’t realise that they are eligible for any assistance from the Department for Work & Pensions, perhaps because of family income of one sort or another. Because my husband works full-time, I certainly never thought that I might be eligible for anything – and why would I check for something that I had no knowledge of? For the record, I have: fairly severe Fibromyalgia – a short trip in the car, say to the doctor or the dentist, will wipe me out for the rest of the day; plantar fasciitis of the left foot – walking any distance causes severe pain in my foot; two ruptured discs in my lumbar region causing constant pain that spikes up into “unbearable agony” when I move (going on waiting list for an operation to remove the discs and fuse my spine… it _might_ work); migraine when stressed; irritable bowel syndrome (needing to “double up” with stomach cramps is really not a good idea when you have severe bilateral sciatica) that gets worse with stress; eczema on my scalp and face (my face is constantly peeling in patches); RSI in my right hand means I cannot write with a pen for more than a few words; and have suffered from chronic cyclic depression for over a quarter of a century. I’ve been getting progressively worse over the last 5 years.
Having gone through the criteria for DLA (and what has been suggested so far might be the final criteria for PIP) – which all of the publicity surrounding the WRB informed me are NOT classed as”out of work benefit” and can be claimed regardless of income – & spoken to the CAB, I should be eligible for Higher Rate of both components (Care & Mobility). So, if a millionaire like Cameron can have the balls to have claimed welfare benefits for his late son, then someone like me, struggling to make ends meet and only managing to cope because everyone else in the house (husband and son – and daughter visits to help when she can) do all of the essential stuff as well as looking after me, can certainly bloody do it.
So, as more and more people read the publicity being generated some may go “hang on a second… you mean I _am_ eligible for help?!” and put in an application. That will increase the base number of claimants.
Then add the cost of those to the figures in this post and you quickly begin to see that the government’s proposed “savings” will end up being nothing of the sort. They really, really didn’t think this through at all.
At your next election, go and vote, but don’t vote for any of the three main parties. Pick an independent or a small party that you are comfortable with and vote for them. No vote is “a wasted vote”. Every vote that they don’t get is a demonstration of the distrust the people have for party politics. Remember, politicians may tells us that “they work for us” but really, they’re working to fill their pockets and those of their mates – and for those few that don’t work like that? They will never get anywhere other that the far Back Bench because they don’t follow the party line – they’d be better off being an independent.