Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The elephant in the room

I'm working on a more in depth analysis of the current welfare reforms, specifically what really needs to be done to reform the benefits system in a workable and hopefully equitable fashion. Whilst that is still in draft form there is one very important point I hope to make. Currently the wrong benefits and the wrong groups of people are being targeted.

Disabled people, on the whole, tend not to be the most noticeable group. Wheelchairs, white sticks or window licking are probably the most common symbols people associate with disability, and are all very visible, albeit possibly not to anyone needing a white stick*. The point being that for most people, linked in their mind with disability are visible symbols. The flaw being that the overwhelming majority of disabled people do not have any visible signs of their disability and then there's a whole other group who do but are too busy being unwell/disabled to be out and about much.

It is easy to see how those common misperceptions could lead to a wider and more sinister misconception that there are very few genuinely disabled people and therefore very few genuine benefits claimants compared to the suddenly all too visible Karen Matthews style minority. After all, aren't screaming Chav mum's with fags hanging out their mouths everywhere clearly draining the very life from hard working tax payers?

As someone genuinely reliant upon the welfare state this constant barrage of abuse against benefit claimants is terrifying. The government promise to get a million people off Incapacity Benefit and into work even more so. That promise relies heavily on the assumption that the vast majority of Incapacity Benefit recipients are either workshy, lazy, fraudulent or a bit 'stressed'. An awful lot are claimed to have a 'bad back' too. The frightening bit is that this is just not a true representation of Incapacity Benefit claimants.

Ironically today the children of courage awards were at 10 Downing Street. Tonight footage of an 'assisted suicide' will be shown on television. Why do we recognise and celebrate the achievements of such children or battle to save babies born at 23 weeks whilst refusing to recognise those children grow up to be adults? Adults with disabilities.

This morning my 'surrogate mum' came round to have a bit of a cry. Her beloved husband, a man who served his country for 25 years and worked for many more is dying. He has cerebellar ataxia. This afternoon I met a mum with her bright, happy, beautiful baby girl. Who is about to be diagnosed with Hirschsprung's disease. I've never met anyone who is fraudulently claiming Incapacity Benefit**, but I know large numbers of young adults who are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and also working. They leave education and as soon as they are able, living at home with their parents, sign on and work for cash in hand. They won't be affected by the current reform's though. All are on New Deal, all are going through the government mandated jobseeking process and all are committing benefit fraud. It's just not called benefit fraud when you're white, middle class and have taxpaying parents, then it's called 'being entitled to it'.

These current 'reforms' insist upon targeting Incapacity Benefit claimants and single mothers and as such are doomed to fail. At great cost to the tax payer. Those job brokers don't come cheap.

Deciding that it is no longer acceptable for society to pay our young people not to work when they leave school, college or university could work out a hell of a lot cheaper though. If any politician has the courage to confront the real issues instead of demonising the most vulnerable in society that is.

I'm not suggesting benefit fraud is not an important issue. It is, of course it is. Reform of the system is overwhelmingly needed, but more so is an honest discussion of the issues. Namely whether or not we as a country wish to continue providing a safety net to the most vulnerable, and assuming that is the case, how we wish it to work. The current 'reforms' are disingenuous at best and downright fraudulent at worst.





*Yes, you are supposed to laugh. Political correctness helped us into this mess
** I am not suggesting that there aren't plenty. Just not the numbers the govt would like you to believe. Single mothers do not receive Incapacity Benefit.

15 comments:

Rae!xx said...

Unfortunately Bendy where I live there are a number of people claiming incapacity benefit that shouldn't be.

I am painfully aware having a disabled mum who fought against claiming it for years when she was entitled to it that there are also an awful lot that are and I just hope as part of the Government reforms you realise who should be on it and who shouldn't.

I truly hope it doesn't affect the genuine claimants though..xx

Rae!xx said...

They realise not you..ooops..x

Anonymous said...

Iv been on sick for 20 years i been sick from the age off 14 BEFRE working age YOUR all sheep the only think the keep me away from you is the in do not have to go uot and look at SHEEP if my benifit is stoped i am going to have to live wild ( THIS I DON'T MIND AT ALL BUT I WILL HAVE TO EAT

madsadgirl said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly. While I accept that there are some on incapacity benefit who shouldn't be, how the government imagines that they are really going to be able to find jobs for the disabled and for single mums I really don't know. I would have thought that the highest priority for jobs would be all those who have been made redundant in the last couple of months, partly as a result of this government's bad management of the economy.

Anonymous said...

Your not really the target of these reforms... sure, your a convenient target for the 2 minute hate to distract people from the real rip off artists (all in higher tax brackets than even I have managed)... but its very unlikely your benefits will be cut.

The main target is the mentally ill... already stigmatized, and in no position to protest, they are the ones who will really suffer.

Of course, I can't guarentee that you or any of the others here won't end up as collatoral damage... to be honest, just about everyone over a G6 has no clue what the situation on the ground is, as they are surrounded by hordes of lickspittles too afraid to admit things are going tits up and really only looking for that next promotion. Purnell and Leigh Lewis may honestly believe that they are Gods gift to the disabled - certainly no one who works for them will tell them different.

And on that note, you might be interested to know that I've given my notice to the whole rotten lot. Now I'm off to do something useful for humanity... like cure cancer or something.

så lenge og god lykke,

-faceless-

Mary said...

Faceless! That's bloody brave of you but I see where you're coming from.

Fire Byrd said...

What the government is doing sticks in my throat, of course there are people exploiting the system, but surely they are the few and to have a cover all approach as if everyone is scrounging is just insulting. And where the fuck are all these people going to get jobs in today's economic climate anyway.
So no job seekers allowence, no job, no cares. we are becoming an ever more divided society and I think it stinks.

word ver: pormick (!!!)

Jim said...

Hi Bendy,

Did you get the photo's I sent you of the disabled loo?

J

wordsmith_for_hire said...

Looks like the government is going to solve problems for some of those still able to claim, anyway...

http://tinyurl.com/5clea9

Dave said...

The system is biased against the self sufficient and educated.
It all depends on your ability to fill in the forms correctly. If you are able to fill in the forms then you don't qualify for any benefit.
However, if you can't read or write and need help to fill in the forms then you do qualify.

Only too glad to help.

Anonymous said...

Dave - thats not actually true... the fastest way not to get benefits is to do a poor job filling in the forms, and I do often wonder if a percentage of potential claiments miss out because they are sufficiently literate (or proficient in English) to think they don't need help, but not sufficiently literate to actually complete the forms in such a way that we realize they qualify for disability.

As a general rule, it does help to talk to the various disabled charities, as they are experienced at navigating the system and can help guide someone into writing a concise outline of their case. The only downside with these charities is that some will encourage people who are ineligable to apply with the thought that "its worth a try"... that just ends up costing us money better spent on claiments that do qualify.

-faceless-

Casdok said...

Hear hear. Well said Bendy.

having my cake said...

Ive been thinking about single mothers all this week. As a mum who has had the luxury of being able to stay at home whilst my children are of school age, I do find it sad that some will be forced to work when their children are only a year old. How can that be workable with the costs of childcare? Knowing how reluctant employers were to give me a job when I said I would like to take time off to keep an eye on my teenagers during the school holidays, the only jobs available are those working with children which are hard to come by because every mother wants them.

As one of your other correspondents said, any jobs that are available should be offered to those who have just been made redundant as a result of the current crisis, not inflicted upon mothers who will effectively be doing two jobs.

The world has gone mad when disadvantaged people have to go without whilst those who already have more money than they know what to do with just get richer.

Nick Kiddle said...

I've been brooding over this for a few days now. If I get myself organised to blog about it, do you mind if I link back here?

I was at the jobcentre a few weeks ago being patronised, and she kept stressing that I needed to start worrying now what I was going to do when the xCLP turns seven (she's currently 3) because once she's seven it'll be too late to do anything. So how is it going to work under the new rules? Are single parents going to have to start worrying before they even get pregnant?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Faceless: I echo Mary, goodness me that's brave of you! I wish you all the very best of luck, do you know what you'll do next? If you'd like to write anything from your point of view I'd love to publish it here. I'm not thinking of anything particularly contentious (unless you wish!) more a view of the system from someone working within it. Email me if you'd be interested and I hope things work out well for you whatever you decide to do. BG x

Nick: Yes, link away :)