Friday, February 04, 2011

The Prime Minister's Instructions "You Have To Make The Fight"

Prime Minister David Cameron claims parents of 6 year old Dylan Scothern have to 'make the fight' to have his speech therapy reinstated. Dylan’s speech therapy was originally removed because he was ‘too old’
This order comes right from the top. All of us facing cuts to care services, DLA, ILF, ESA and a myriad of other benefits, supports and services for disabled people now have instructions directly from the prime minister as to how to respond.

Speaking during wednesday’s PMQ’s the Prime Minister said: "You have to make the fight" as a flippant response to the MP of the family of a Nottinghamshire boy with autism who faces his speech therapy being withdrawn.

The prime minister continued: "I know as a parent how incredibly tough it is sometimes to get what your family needs." This from a man whose inherited wealth means that he has never had to fight the fights of ordinary people in his life - he could simply ‘show them the money’ and enable himself and his family to get what they needed. 

But perhaps the PM is right. The Broken of Britain is concerned about the cuts faced by disabled people. David Cameron himself is urging us to "make the fight". So remember, you heard it here, direct from the top. The Prime Minister has issued his instructions to us all. 

Let's fight then, and win.

By Kaliya Franklin and Rhydian Fon James 


Anonymous said...

Kaliya, you are a wonderful person. That is obvious to anyone who reads your blog and feels your pain and frustration.

The problem is that not everyone who is part of this campaign is as deserving as you.

Do forgive me for what I'm about to say. There are too many people with nebulous complaints. Anxiety, agoraphobia, panic. Now, I'm not denying the reality of these conditions but they are probably best dealt with outside of the welfare system. We have made a medical condition of what was known, in our parents day, as a nervous disposition.In the old days, these folks just got on with it. And they recovered.

This is so non PC but I'll say it anyway. The depressed, anxious and lonely agoraphobes should be enticed into the real world. People like you should have more support and lots more money.

Seriously, I was reading a blog the other day where some woman complained that her interview was scheduled for the she couldn't make it because she was not used to getting up at that time. She thought it was outrageous that the social services couldn't send two people to her house to talk to her. Is that too much to ask she said. Well yes, actually. It's completely impractical and downright stupid. And it diverts resources from people who need it, like you.

This won't be popular with your readers. However, resources are scarce, time is short, money is lacking and the righteous claimants would be best served by getting their act together. They would be happier for it. Please note that I do not include you in this category. If all the wasters would get off you could be better cared for.

You needn't bother slagging me off. I know what I think, and I know what I see. And you girl, deserve a whole lot better.

notcrazy said...

I sincerely hope you never have to deal with mental illness.

It is debiliatating, as much as a physcial health condition. Made a whole lot worse by attitudes such as yours that we should be able to just 'snap out of it'.

We can't. Not without treatment, proper, decent treatment. That is just not available, and is really difficult to get.

So yes, in a way I agree with you. There are people who dont need benefits on benefits, but we are trapped here because the system fails to recognise and treat our conditions as a serious thing, and respond in a hollistic way.

The thousands of pounds that has been spent on my benefits, and the police and ambulances and other crisis point interventions have been wasted, I agree. But don't blame me for this. Don't blame me for being ill, blame the system that refuses to treat me, that refuses to help get me better.

Yes, potentially I could work. If I had the support I need to do so. If the money was in mental health services, If I had recieved treatment before my condition had got to serious. However, because of the failure of the NHS to give me treatment, my condition has become long term, and a whole lot more serious. And a whole lot harder to treat me.

I am not a scrounger, I do not enjoy living like this. I want to get better, I know I can get better, thats the fustrating thing. It is the system that is preventing me from doing so, as I simply can not get better on my own.

Oya's Daughter said...

Already blogged about how I feel about the "let them eat cake" comment today *seethes*

DeusExMacintosh said...


That's right, say it with me children... our REAL problem is that we're just not TRYING hard enough. {breathes deeply}

Anon, I'm politically from the right so I tend to agree with the coalition that the current circle that defines "disability" is drawn more widely than we can afford to support. But that's NOT the same as saying people aren't genuinely disabled by either their mental or physical health - just that we don't have the money to keep them entirely economically inactive.

If the government were genuinely taking their political licks and asking "here's what we can afford, how many can we save?" perhaps they'd get more suggestions. [I've made a couple here].

What we're seeing instead is the deliberate demonisation and out-grouping of people on benefits, claims of massive fraud (for which there is no evidence) and outright insult in many cases to silence dissent against swingeing cuts to public services (IDS blamed people on welfare for the deficit in the Sun recently for example, whereas earlier on in the public conversation he acknowledged in a BBC interview the massive benefit withdrawal rates that make less than full time hours financially unreasonable for most).

When the policies chosen attack the problems rather than the people, we'll be able to get behind them. Until then, Mr Cameron should know that we'll be fighting as hard as we can and we'll be doing so without wasting time worrying about who is and isn't "deserving" in a bid to feel better about ourselves by judging others.

Mandyque said...

I suppose conditions like autism, ADHD and dyslexia are imaginary too, because in the olden days they were just weirdos, retards and village idiots who hadn't been parented properly. *angry*

SamBC said...

Sure, disabled people should fight. I, for one, am prepared to fight until I collapse. Of course, after having done my work, continued working towards further academic qualifications, and spent more time than I care to with doctors and so on, "until I collapse" won't be very long.

This is why we say that they're picking on those less able to defend themselves; we're not able to do as much as 'normal' people. The less-ill are slow to jump to our defence. We have lower incomes, so we can't take out huge media campaigns. I do feel that, as a group, we are being attacked. Some of the government's rhetoric seems laudable, but the plans are a poison pill, and some of the rhetoric is outright disablist lies.

Sure, if we keep the spend the same and get rid of all fraud, there will be more for the people who are actually disabled. Problem is, the DWP estimates that only 0.5% of DLA claims are fraudulent, and the government wants to cut the spend by 20%. Pretty easy maths then on the possible combinations of people getting less money, and currently valid claimants losing the benefit.

Oh, and to the previous commenter regarding the assessment being in the morning? I suffer from narcolepsy. The precise balance of symptoms varies, but in my case it takes me a couple of hours to go from being woken up to being capable of something like an assessment, and that's with someone making sure I don't fall back to sleep. Combine that with my migraines, which became vastly more frequent if I get less sleep than usual (7 hours seems to be enough, if it's just one night, it needs to be 8 usually), and night-time insomnia that's linked to either my depression (and who'd be surprised at depression with that lot) or the narcolepsy (or both), and I really can't do stuff early in the morning. It happens. Should I really need to explain all of that every time I describe to someone the fact I can't do stuff in the morning? Sure, if I were going for ESA I'd tell them why, but if I mention it to someone I know, or even someone online, I don't think I should have to go into even the level of detail that I just did.

Anonymous said...

Mandyque, I do not doubt that mental health issues are debilitating. I know that autism is real and a host of other problems affect people adversely. I never said that people should be left to snap out of it and clearly that is not happening.

We have people in the community who have been sitting around for years claiming a benefit which enables them to live fairly comfortably. There is no incentive for these people to seek work or to try to get better. The outcry now is because the system is tightening up. It should never have got so out of control.

I feel very sorry for anybody who has been on benefits for so many years that the prospects of them finding a job are slim. I still think though that their situation has been exacerbated by DLA. In a harsher climate many of these unfortunates would have been forced to help themselves and would not have found themselves trapped in such a hopeless situation.

The reality is that anybody who has been stuck at home for years is bound to feel depressed and anxious. However, they are not ill. Not really. As for ADHD, I do have a problem with that. It is a label that is used far too often. Naughty kids who can't sit still and are difficult to manage have a mental disorder? I think not.

As a society we should prioritise. The sick should be cared for well. We should not make small problems big. Treating someone who is depressed as though they are disabled is not right.

Richie said...

We're not talking about people who feel a bit sad. We're talking about severe depression. The times we've nearly killed ourselves, the times we've not been able to sleep for anxiety and its accompanying tremors, the times we really can't step outside the front door. Yes, it's in the mind, but that doesn't mean we can just change how we feel. We need therapy, drugs and support.

I agree that getting out and meeting people can be a great treatment for depression, but we need the money to do that, and when we are feeling very ill we need a carer to coax us out, to watch us, to speak for us, to reassure us and to take us home when we start having panic attacks in the supermarket and our minds stop functioning normally.

Depression, anxiety, agoraphobia might be neuroses, but the sick feeling, the constant butterflies in the stomach, the dread that something awful will happen, the blackness of soul that tells us everyone would be better if we were dead, the inability to speak when so nervous as to be terrified are all real and horrible symptoms.
There's not enough support for mental illness. Psychiatric appointments are months apart, even for the very ill, hospital is just about a medication review, counselling is limited to just a few sessions, and there's no option to change if one hates the therapist.

We've fought and fought, and we can't go on doing it; we're ill for heaven's sake! Some of us don't make it, and do die of suicide or accidental overdose. Every bit of specialist help or benefits we've had we've only got because we (or more likely our families/carers) fought for it, and that's wrong. I've tried to fight on behalf of others, but it worsened my mental health, and still the help for those friends was not particularly forthcoming.

There is not enough provision for mental illness, and with budget cuts it will likely get worse. Rethink has a shop near me where people can do some voluntary work and get training and advice. Funding has stopped, and it will likely close. The community will be left without this useful shop, and the mentally ill will be left with one less place to build up their confidence and skills and generally get better and ready for work.

Oya's Daughter said...

Anonymous there is so much wrong with your statements I cannot even begin.

We are not poor wee folk abandoned on a system of benefits and that's why we're so abject, bless us, guv; we are DISABLED. The DLA is NOT A WORK BENEFIT; it buys our medical equipment, gets us to and from a ridiculous amount of doctor and specialist appointments, specialist clothing for night tube-feeds for children, special beds for disabled to get in and out of. Contrary to popular belief, no one pays for this stuff -not the council, not the NHS. If you need equipment there's no other way to get it. If anything, DLA isn't even remotely enough money, but it was designed to give the disabled some form of control and ability to purchase the expensive stuff they need to survive.

It would be nice if Work Was the Cure for Everything - but it isn't. As has been stated time and time and time again by many disabled people, we'd love to work. We can't. I am self-employed as I'm well aware no employer would hire me (and how do I know that? Because as I got ill I was working as a trainee paralegal - I got fired). I've had several businesses before this and had to close them because even trying to work was making me more ill. What I SHOULD be working on is getting well - but I have a condition with no known cause, no known cure, and no actual treatment other than loading me with pain drugs and hoping I can function whilst doing so. But gods forbid I try that as I get the scrounger-speech - or, as seems to be the case, the scrounger speech couched in language of how I've been abandoned of the rocky shores of benefits and the only true cure to life is to get a McJob. Because, naturally, asking "Do you want fries with that?" will give me a whole new lease and outlook on how fulfilling my life is.

Please, spare me that nonsense - I could have a fulfilling life NOW if people would leave me the hell alone long enough to live it. Sometimes I have very good days; but I'm always well aware that someone somewhere is saying being in the state I'm in, if I'm not miserable 100% of the time, I must be a fake. If I have been "abandoned" it hasn't been due to being on benefits - it's because the only thing society sees in me or my son is that we're a waste of space.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I just want to thank everyone for airing their opinions and disagreements politely. Too often these kind of discussions descend into ranting and personal attacks so I'm very proud of everyone here for managing to avoid that even whilst debating such emotive issues.

Anon, could you possibly pick a name to comment with please? Pseudonym, initials, whatever you choose but something so we can tell which anon you are would be great, thank you.

Jan said...

I'm going to do my usual bit for abuse survivors now.

Best estimates suggest that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual abuse/violence at some point in their lives, with a sizeable proportion of victims being children. Approximately two-thirds of victims develop PTSD alone. 25-50% of mental health service users have a history of sexual abuse. That's leaving aside verbal/psychological/physical mistreatment, which also often lead to mental illness.

When one goes to the doctor and describes ones problems resulting from this kind of experience, the GP does not usually say "oh you're probably traumatised, here's a range of treatments". They look at you in a slightly baffled way (it's not their area, after all) and sign you off with, generally, Depression or Anxiety. I'm not trying to take anything away from people with organic conditions, I'm just saying that for plenty of people those words are descriptors not diagnoses and tell the observer nothing about cause or appropriate treatment.

Think about it. If all someone knew for the first 18 years of their life was being forced to do horrific things they didn't want to do, might they not react badly to being forced to do anything as an adult? Mightn't they need time to themselves to recover? Sometimes the effect of these experiences on someones mind are so massive that the adult has to effectively break down completely and build themselves up again from the start. That can take years.

If someone has been through such experiences, they might be "sat on their arse" with no job, but if they are not addicted to drugs, alcohol or sex, if they're not hurting their nearest and dearest, and they're not dead, they are actually doing very well indeed. I'd call that a success.

Organic depression and anxiety are indeed extremely debilitating, but without psychoanalysing every benefit claimant in-depth yourself, how do you even know that that's what they've got?

misspiggy said...

Great discussion. It does seem some people feel 'we have too many sick and disabled - more than in the past - and we can only support a few.' There also seems to be a feeling that the definition of chronic illness and disability has expanded as we have got 'softer' as a society, and that lots of people don't really need support.

I don't think that's accurate. We are a longer-lived society, with better nutrition and healthcare, than ever before - and with that come greater levels of chronic illness and disability. People are living who would have died before, often in early childhood or early adulthood. Not necessarily from their underlying illness or disability itself, but from other things like flu, diarrhoea, wars, TB, industrial injuries and so on. The longer you live past your 20s, the more effect chronic physical and mental health issues are likely to have on your capacities.

There is an EU estimate that in developed countries around 20% of the population has a disability. A significant subset of those people will have needs that mean it's impossible for them to live and work without assistance.

The logical answer to this is to keep as many people economically active as possible, and to make care for those who cannot be economically active as efficient as possible - so that carers are not also rendered economically inactive. This means investing in better treatment, assistive aids, flexible working opportunities, reduced discrimination and so on. Hence DLA.

Also, there needs to be support for safer eating, living and working, to reduce the genetic legacy of the appalling conditions experienced by working people in the UK until quite recently. New research is indicating that environmental stresses get passed on in genetic mutations, affecting resistance to disease, impairments, likelihood of getting cancer and so on.

Unfortunately, we now have an economic view which says we don't really need to do all that hard work and grow the nation's economy sustainably and equitably; just keep wages and expectations low and competition for jobs sharp, and that will maximise the profits available in the short term to our mates. The people now in charge of our lives genuinely do not care what happens to those who can't compete in this dog eat dog way, and their wealth will not be affected by the long term national economic impact of more care having to be provided by family members. Public services of any kind just reduce short term profits for these people (unless they're running them at low quality with maximum profit).

They do not care about increased death and suicide of people with chronic illness and disabilities - but many of the general public do, and this is probably the only thing that will get people galvanised.

Alien Weirdo said...

What's so great about wage slavery and participating in an economic system that's destroying the planet?

Seems that most people who bitterly complain about scroungers having it easy must hate their own lives! They should fight the system they hate, not us!

Nuntii said...

It's strictly anecdotal I admit, but several times in my life in the last few years, here in the U.S., attempts to get benefits for legitimate (according to m.d.'s) leaves of absence from work in my family was a lengthy, painful, humiliating, and ultimately fruitless ordeal over a period of years, in one case.

Scroungers, yes, they are there (I used to live in New Orleans) but, I wonder if their scrounging really outweighs all the legitimate needs people who have been paying into the system all their lives.

SamBC said...


I know plenty of people who've tried to get disability benefits in the US; I know the system there is more unfair than it is here, easily more unfair than the expected proposals from the coalition government. Being disabled in the US, unless you're already rich or had really brilliant insurance before you got sick, is horrific in many cases.

That said, and this is a general point of commentary, not directed at anyone, just because there's worse in the world, doesn't mean there's room to make our system worse. Worse is worse.

Malcolm said...

Taking up Jan's point (thank you for raising it, Jan)

I was sexually abused between 10 & 13 yrs, had a physically and mentally abusive with my stepfather until I was 18 and was bullied throughout 7 years at Grammar School. Not too surprisingly I've suffered with depression since I was 11 and it doesn't get any better.

Anon, have you any idea what it's like to lie awake asking yourself if you did something wrong nearly half a century ago that set your life on such a horrifying course?

However, until the financial crash cost me my job in 2009 I've managed to work having been astonishingly lucky in having a series of understanding employers. Now, however with the added disability of age nobody wants to employ me and with the continued worsening of the arthritis I developed as a teenager my mobility is constantly decreasing.

I receive DLA which helps alleviate some of the financial strain my conditions place on us but I can assure you that we are not rolling in state money.

Alien Weirdo said...

Hi Malcolm.

I had similar stuff happen to me- abuse and bullying. I'm over fifty now and still pretty fucked. Thanks for writing about it.

It's hard for people to see into other people's invisible minds. I'm not even sure myself about my own yet often feel guilty simply for existing, wishing I didn't, yet refusing to die!

The constant refrain from the criminal tories, demonizing the most vulnerable to cover up their power madness and clulessness is salt in the wound.

Good luck with the coming benefit shakedown.

Senua said...

And where are these people supposed to work Anon.
I'm not registered disabled but over the last year have had some health issues which has meant some time off work. When I'm in work I'm in a lot of pain. Now I have a Disaplinary meeting about my health. I am willing to work but I am ill. The place I work for does not care. I was told that they had to think of the company. I'm not disabled , how do you think disabled people would be treated. Do you really honestly think they would employ someone with disabilities or ill health. I'm terrified of this meeting. All the time I've worked at this place I've done my job and more for just above minamum wage. I've no hope of finding another job.
If the government truely want to help the sick and disabled back to work then there have to be laws in place to protect those already in work and those looking for work. Employers are too concerned with how much profit they can make than with the welfare of their employees.

nic-lil-qt said...

My son used to recieve direct 1:1 speech therapy and after a short time he was able to use single words to express himself. After a while I saw my son slowly going backards and using less of these words. After making enquiries i found out his direct input from a speech and language therapist had been stopped. With out my consent or my permission. Now nearly 2 years on my son has no words and i am still fighting for him to get this input. I have evidence to verify my child was bennefiting from this input where as S.A.L.T cant prove he wont benefit from it, yet they are still fighting me and they havent even taken the time to look at my evidence. is anyone else in this situation? if so please e mail me