75% of Incapacity Benefit Claimants Are NOT Being Found Fit For Work

10/27/2010 07:45:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 22 Comments


BBC Radio Leeds

10/26/2010 07:44:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

I will be speaking on BBC Radio Leeds this morning about the impact of the spending cuts on disabled people. Eek!

Listen again feature is available here My section starts at 1 h 46 mins into the programme. 


The Broken Of Britain - Together We Can Do This

10/25/2010 12:05:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments




I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell

10/24/2010 09:56:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

This feels like an apt song to get us going. Apologies, as usual technology is defeating me and I can embed the video here but not on the new The Broken Of Britain blog.


The Broken Of Britain

10/24/2010 08:53:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

The new blog to allow people to tell their stories is up at The Broken Of Britain and the email is thebrokenofbritain@gmail.com 

If anyone can help with the admin, technical aspects, promotion, media contacts, in fact any help at all, please email thebrokenofbritain@gmail.com 

Thank you all so much for the overwhelming support your showing for this campaign. Together our whispers can become an almighty shout!


To The Disabled People Of Great Britain - Transcript

10/24/2010 07:41:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 16 Comments

The changes announced by George Osborne in Wednesday's comprehensive
spending review have so far caused a shockwave of terror through the
approximately 10 million people who have disabilities living in Great
We're a small country; there's approximately 60 million of us live
here, so disabled people make up roughly 1/6th of the population. Some
of those are over 65, most are under 65 and of working age. We have
the best part of a million disabled children living in the country.
But of those 10 million people we only have 2.9 [million] in receipt
of Disability Living Allowance which is a non means-tested benefit
paid to, not compensate, but a way of saying that we understand as a
country that there are phenomenal extra costs involved in living with
a disability and we recognise that a role of our society is to provide
for those additional costs.
People are scared. I have received many messages of support since the
video I made. Messages from people telling me that I'm brave to speak
out publicly. There's nothing brave about what I'm doing. My story is
the same as millions of people's stories. My life was fairly normal, I
come from a very middle-class area, my parents are still married. I
worked hard at school. I went to a Grammar school, and I went to
University and I studied Law. None of those factors prevented me from
becoming a disabled person and none of them were enough to help me get
a job. Only 50% of disabled adults are in work, unlike 80% of the
general population. There are many reasons why we're not in work -
ranging from those whose disabilities are so severe that work will
never be possible for them, to those whose disabilities are very minor
and with the right support they could and should be encouraged into
the workplace. The problem is it all requires support and it all
requires money and really that's what these changes and announcements
are about.
I've always been proud to be British. It's a country with values that
I believe in. On my mother's side of the family, they were Jews
fleeing persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. Those who remained
behind in Germany were all wiped out during the Second World War. What
many people don't know is that before, long before, the Nazis started
exterminating Jewish people, they went for the most vulnerable people
of society; those with disabilities. They were marked out by a black
triangle. Advertising was widespread, telling the German people
exactly how much each dependant person cost them. It was a
well-thought-out campaign to devalue the lives of disabled people and
ensure that there would be less complaints. Now I'm not suggesting the
Conservative government are Nazis, I'm not suggesting any politician
is. What I am suggesting is that as a world, we have learnt lessons
from that war; lessons that we wish never to be repeated.
Travelling down a path in which all the value of a person's life is
considered to be solely on their economic contribution is wrong. It's
fundamentally and morally wrong. It's also bad for our society;
voluntary work holds us together. People being at home during the day,
using shops and services, builds communities, and those communities
are what holds us together. Actually, that's pretty much what David
Cameron keeps going on about in his Big Society. But what he's
forgotten, is that projects like that cost money. They're very rarely
profitable for the private sector, so the State picks up the slack.
People disagree on how much a role the state should play. But really,
party politics is not relevant to this argument, nor should it be. As
disabled people, we have no representation.
The coalition government have made it quite clear that they intend an
all-out attack on the Welfare State. Whilst reform is welcome, these
are cuts. Cuts with only one agenda, to reduce the level of welfare
paid. Now in some cases that's admirable. In others it's shocking and
despicable, such as removing the High-Rate Mobility Allowance from
adults resident in care homes. But really it sends a wider message; a
wider message against a background of rising Disability Hate Crime. Of
people torturing disabled people, given sentences of 18 hours
community service and a slap on the wrist, or families who are already
so desperate that mothers commit suicide after murdering their
children, because they feel it's the only way they have to protect
I did believe, on a personal level, that David Cameron valued the
lives of disabled people. I was furiously angry with Gordon Brown, who
is also the father of a disabled child, for the betrayal he made to
disabled people. Danny Alexander has been wheeled out a lot on
television lately to defend the coalition's spending cuts. This is the
same Danny Alexander who, while in opposition, was the one main
champion for disabled people falling victim to the Work Capability
Assessment of the Employment Support Allowance. Danny Alexander railed
against that. Now he stands there and defends cuts far more savage and
damaging than those which he previously protested.
It's very clear that help for us will not come from the main political
parties. We have to form together and stand up for ourselves even
though many of us can't actually stand. We still have to do this.
Civil change, in some countries like France, happens with rioting. In
Britain we're more reserved than that. We're very big on the stiff
upper lip, and everything being cured by a cup of tea. But we do have
one way to effectively protest. We can speak out. We can tell our
stories, publicly. There are 10 million of us, that's a lot of stories
to be told. It is impossible to ignore 1/6th of the population but
it's very easy to ignore one individual. I urge you to do the same as
I am. Write your story, record it, put it on the internet. We can
collate them. We can present them together. We can fight these
changes. They are, after all, only proposed cuts in a spending review.
They have yet to be got through parliament. Unfortunately, they are
unlikely to be opposed by Labour. The new Labour leader, Ed Milliband,
has already committed himself, in parliament, to supporting and
working with the government on their cuts to Disability Living
Allowance. Angela Eagle also backed up the cuts to change the gateway
to Disability Living Allowance on Newsnight this week. They will not
defend us. We have to do that for ourselves. And those of us who can
speak are obliged to do so for those who can't.
Together, we can make the kind of changes that start with a woman
sitting in a front of a bus. Quietly, and carefully, Rosa Parks got up
and sat at the front of the bus. As a black woman, in America, at a
time when black people were not considered to have rights. She changed
the world. Others stood with her, alongside her, and spoke up about
the injustice of judging one group of people as less worthy than
another. We've moved on as a world. Generally speaking we recognise
that people of colour, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what
colour your skin is, it doesn't make you of intrinsically less value
than somebody else. We understand that about sexuality. Religion is
more complicated but most of us recognise that everybody has a right
to believe whatever they wish to. All those things are protected
within law. Disability, however, does not have the same legal
protection when it comes to crimes based upon it. There are no
specific laws to protect disabled people against hate crimes in the
way that there are if hate crimes occur because of religion, race or
We have to change this. We have to come forward and we have to tell
our stories to change things to a world that we want to be part of.
I'm ashamed to be a Britain, who lives in a country where we think
it's ok to torture others. To fight wars against people for reasons
that most of us don't understand. They're not the British values of
fair play and justice. Values that I suspect Mr Cameron actually
believes in. Maybe not as a politician, but certainly on a personal
level. The more we tell our stories, the stronger we become. Changing
the world may come with a shout but it starts with a whisper. And 10
million whispers, held together, make a very loud collective shout. So
please, tell your story. Tell us why you're scared, tell us what the
cuts will mean to you. And together, our voices can drown out the
cruelty and the callous disregard for the lives of people affected by
the cuts.
 With huge thanks to 'Your Friendly Neighbourhood Grammar Nazi' and 'Crystal' for their hard work providing a transcript.


To The Disabled People Of Great Britain

10/23/2010 03:12:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

To the disabled people of Great Britain. Our individual voices are too quiet to be heard, but collectively we can shout loud enough to drown out this tide of abuse against us. Disability Hate Crime, lack of full legal protection, people in care homes costing too much to be let out and not one political party willing to fight for us. We must emulate other successful civil rights movements and with polite determination take our place as equal members of society. Please send me your stories as together we are unignorable.
Initially please email me at benefitscroungingscum@hotmail.co.uk until I can sort out a platform to host our stories and videos.

For those needing a transcript, I do not speak from a script or use notes so will do my best to provide a transcript as soon as possible. If anyone can help, I'd be very grateful.  Please contact me on benefitscroungingscum@hotmail.co.uk


Transcript for Dear Prime Minister video

10/22/2010 12:37:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

Transcript very kindly provided by DisabilityXpert.

Dear Prime Minister
Whilst I’m not a natural Conservative voter, when you became Prime Minister, as a disabled person, I was reassured by the personal knowledge and experience you have of disability that you would fight our corner and that you would protect us. Perhaps I was naive to believe you because after yesterdays Comprehensive Spending Review I feel more betrayed and saddened by your actions than I ever did by the cuts that a Labour government that I voted for, made to benefits and disabled people.
I’ve yet to look into the impact of the changes to Housing Benefit and Employment Support Allowance to see how they’ll affect me as an individual, at the moment, there are far more pressing matters. The removal of High Rate Mobility Allowance from those adults resident in care homes is a decision so callous and so shocking in its disregard for the importance and expense of independence to peoples’ lives that it leaves me lost for words, it’s also left me without sleep as I pondered how, how could Ivan’s father do this? I know you know. I know you know how hard it is, I know you know how great it can be, I know you know how much equipment costs and I know that you could afford it, and I also know that you know that most people can’t.
Living in a care home as an adult is a particular vulnerable and difficult position to be put in. We know that there is a shortage of social housing in this country, and we know that it’s a particular problem for adults with severe disabilities: there may not be appropriate properties in their area and therefore the local authorities may have no choice but to place them as residents in a care home to provide the kind of support packages that they need to live. To take away the small amount of independence that those adults have is astonishing. Adults living in care homes already only keep £20 a week of their benefits, their High Rate Care Allowance, and their Income Support or Incapacity Benefit is all handed over to pay for the cost of their care.
The High Rate Mobility Allowance however, is used in a variety of ways. People might use it to contribute towards the cost of power wheelchairs, which are far too expensive for the NHS to cover. They might use it to fund a wheelchair accessible vehicle; they might even travel to and from work in that. Or perhaps in some cases it will go to fund accessible taxis, or some homes will pool the money and use it to fund transport for days out, things that perhaps don’t seem important on paper, but when you’re an adult looking at four walls, all day every day, with no respite from that, such things are vital.
I believed you Mr Cameron. I believed you when you stood there and promised that you would always protect the most vulnerable in our society, and perhaps that’s why, nearly 24 hours on from the announcement, I’m still shocked, saddened and betrayed.
I won’t be affected by these changes, but I believe that the most important thing is to stand up for those who are more vulnerable than ourselves, I though you believed that too.
Your Big Society is a fantastic concept which builds upon those visions; visions for a Britain that’s different from today where people are more involved and engaged; a Britain that would not turn its back on adults for the price of £135million a year; a Britain that would not allow companies, such as Vodafone, to owe £6billion in unpaid taxes.
The most vulnerable are paying for this Mr Cameron, and I’m ashamed of you for it

If anyone requires more accessible formats please could you email me benefitscroungingscum@hotmail.co.uk with Bendy proofed instructions on how to provide what you need?


Dear Prime Minister

10/21/2010 02:56:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 13 Comments


First They Came...

10/21/2010 01:17:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892 - 1984)


Shame on you Prime Minister. I know you know better.

10/20/2010 06:57:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

One of the quietest announcements in today's Comprehensive Spending review was that the High Rate Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance will be removed from those resident in care homes. On the face of it that might seem a sensible place to save money, after all if someone lives in a care home surely they don't need to worry about transport, but this is certainly the nastiest, pettiest cut of all. Petty because the numbers of people resident in care homes is a very small proportion of the overall awards for high rate mobility meaning the sums of money to be saved are minimal. But downright nasty, disdainful and cruel because people resident in care homes are far more likely to use the mobility component of their disability living allowance to pay towards the phenomenally expensive specialist wheelchairs they need rather than a vehicle.

I believe that matters relating to health and disability should never be party political, they are too important for that. That David Cameron, himself the father of a profoundly disabled child, should preside over this kind of cut is wicked. Shame on you Prime Minister. I know you know better. I know you know how difficult the lives of disabled people and their families can be. I know you could afford to pay for the additional costs of disability and I know you know how high those costs are, far in excess of the actual levels of Disability Living Allowance. That you would allow this to happen is such callous disregard for those with severe disabilities that it makes me weep.


Comprehensive Spending Review - Live Blog Impact on Disabled People

10/20/2010 11:33:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

As the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review are announced over the next few hours I'll try to put those aspects which affect disabled people into this blog as quickly as possible. Watch this space...

  • Cuts might seem less traumatic to an already frightened and vulnerable population if the ConDem government made at least a token effort to disguise their glee.  
  • Tweeted by @jonesythered "...Reform the welfare system that our country can no longer afford" - Translation: 'We're shutting down the welfare state. Bye bye!'
  • "Public services and welfare system will be put on a sustainable footing" George Osborne. Translation "Cut, cut, cut"
  • "Fairness means creating a welfare system that helps the vulnerable, supports people into work and is affordable for the working families who pay for it." George Osborne  
  •  Administrative budgets of every main government department will be cut by a third
  • 490 000 public sector jobs to go
  • Core grants to local authorities will be reduced except for fire, police and education. Why is social care not exempt?
  • Grant funding for social care increased by £1bn and a further £1bn to the NHS so that elderly people do not fall between the cracks of two systems. Begs the question does the chancellor know that adult social care applies to 18+ not just the elderly?
  • Social Housing. Current tenants will not be changed. For future tenants will be flexible length tenancy and increased rents
  • Priority given to protecting Disabled Facilities Grant
  • Osbourne "Social housing changes - New tenants will have higher rents at 80% of local rent levels. Exisiting tenants unchanged "csr10 #cuts tweeted by @HovellingHermit
  • Extra £2bn for social care by 2014/15
  • Social Housing. New Tenants to pay 80% of market rent. No detail as to how that will work with 10% reduction in Housing Benefit, currently paid for by Local Authorities or £400 per week cap affecting places like London most severely
  • An extra 150,000 affordable homes over four years? A fraction of what is needed to meet need and demand. #csr10 Tweeted by @patrickjbutler
  • "A fair government makes sure that those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden." George Osborne
  • "I completely understand the publics anger that the banks that were so poorly regulated over the last decade and wrought such damage to our economy should be contemplating paying such high bonuses. We have set up independant commission on banking." George Osborne
  • Our aim will be to extract the maximum sustainable financial revenues [from the banks] George Osborne
  • Police spending to fall by 4% each year. As disability hate crime does not have the same legal protection as racial hate crime will this mean even more disabled people fall victim?
  • Nor will fraud in the welfare system be tolerated anymore. We estimate £5bn is lost this year each way. We will step up our plans to combat benefit cheats
  • A civilised country provides for families, protects the most vulnerable. 
  • Guarantee of decent income in retirement has to be paid for. Lord Turner's report on pensions acknowledged more generous pensions must be paid for by increase in state pension age. 
  • State pension age for men and women will be 66 starting in 2015
  • £5bn Osborne claims is fraudulent in welfare system is disingenous at best. The figure includes official error made by DWP
  • Welfare system is there to help people of working age when they lose their job, have a disability or have children. 
  • "Last govt promised reform and flunked it. We will deliver" GO
  • Universal Credit. Guiding rule, it will always pay to work. Those who get work will be better of than those who don't.
  • UC introduced over next 2 parliaments and will go alongside new work programme we are introducing today
  • DWP will make savings to help deliver these schemes by digital uses but we will also be seeking additional £200 million savings from rest of welfare bill
  • Contributory ESA will be time limited to 1 year for those in employment group
  • Rules on Mobility and Care elements of DLA to be aligned for those in residential care
  • Tax credits, basic and 30 hour elements to be frozen
  • Introducing new cap on benefits. NO family which doesn't work will receive more in benefits than the average family in work. Those in receipt of DLA WILL be excluded from this cap
  • Universal benefits for pensioners, free eye tests, free TV licenses, winter fuel allowance will remain exactly as budgeted for by the previous govt
  • Temporary increase in cold weather payments becomes permanent increase! This applies to those on benefits such as income support if the temperature falls below 0 degrees for at least 7 consecutive days
  • Contribution based limited to a year for those in employment group but what about income based ? Means testing by stealth? @BendyGirl
  • Benefits savings help protect NHS George Osborne
  • So far information about changes to Disability Living Allowance are conspicuous in their absence.
  • Re £5bn Osborne claims is lost to fraud in benefits system. Only £1.5bn is fraud. Rest is official error. Blatant misrepresentation of fraud levels being used as an excuse to justify cuts.
  • #dla 'reforms' will probably be announced in seperate announcement - maybe when in Social Security Uprating statement announcing next year's levels @TimMullen
  • Educational Maintenance Allowance to be replaced by more targeted support




        10/19/2010 01:13:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

        Time limiting benefits such as Incapacity Benefit is an idea which plays well in some sectors of the press. It might seem a tempting way to 'encourage' those people represented by figures on a spreadsheet off benefits and into the workplace. But every one of those official figures stands for someone's personal history. We all enter the world naked and equal. Life however is far from equal and no-one becomes disabled in isolation, there is always a journey which takes us there, a journey which some of us start earlier in life than others. It's easy to demonise an official statistic, but incredibly difficult to condemn an individual with an all too human story to tell.

        Home by  Blood In The Sand

        The killing stopped 10 years ago. I am stood in a shabby office, a kid in a suit speaks with me. 'You've filled the forms out wrong mate' He is maybe 19 - I see yellow and brown suits, flashes in the night sky. 'We can't pay you anything'

        I walk away from the Dole office with no money. I haven't eaten for four days. Mum gives me 30 quid for food. So I take it to a bar and order a Pint and a Chaser. Biting down hard as my empty stomach objects to the Whisky I pour into it. The bile stings my throat - So I light a cigarette.

        I haven't shaved since I last ate. My face is sunken and hollow. Fingers yellow. I order another round for myself and stare at a girl feeding the jukebox. She is laughing and dancing. I see white teeth flash out from burnt lips and the steel floor of a helicopter.

        'What you fucking looking at?' The words slammed out with venom. A young man is standing in front of me. I focus on him now. Adrenaline surges. Voices scream 'Gas Gas Gas' My heart pounds. I go back to my drink and light another cigarette with the butt of my last one.

        'Don't fucking ignore me cunt' The young man is breathing shallow. Eyes wide as he prepares for battle. 'Go home' I say. The words barely a whisper from my aching throat. He jabs a hand into my chest. I see a glass in his other. The fear erupts. Deep inside my head there is a fracture. Screaming. Blood. I am stood between two worlds.

        'Fucks sake mate' A frightened man has his hands raised, the bleeding man on the floor is coughing and sobbing. I order a drink. The barmaid stares in silence so I pour it myself.

        The Police stand either side of me. I am arrested. The cell walls close in as the war pours out. Doctors arrive. I am naked and screaming. Inside my mind I try to stem the memories, like a child protecting his sand castle against the tide. Mum sits at the end of my Hospital bed. She is crying. Dad holds her hand as I stare at the wall. I close my eyes and the dead wave at me.


        Missing Out...Again

        10/15/2010 04:29:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 31 Comments

        Today I deathwalked a longer distance than I've been able to manage in 12 months. To say I was jubilant when I arrived home is understating the case, ecstacy would be closer to the truth after a year of injury after injury, hideous Oxycontin withdrawal and many other setbacks, just to get back to a distance I could acheive without as much difficulty 18 months ago is incredible. 

        I've only been home half an hour and that sense of excitement has been whipped from underneath me by a phone call from wheelchair services. I've written about this dilemma in the past, the rules governing wheelchair provision on the NHS are so surreal Dali would have shaken his head in bewilderment and wandered off to find something not in the 'too hard to think about' box. 
        My Occupational Therapist at the Wheelchair Centre is a lovely lady and excellent OT. She's known me since I was in nappies and is very saddened by the situation I'm facing, but her hands are tied by the national rules governing wheelchair provision.

        The rules state that no-one will be supplied a power chair on the NHS which is capable of being used outdoors until they have used a powerchair indoors for a minimum of six months. A rule, which might just possibly seem sensible in abstract to politicians with no understanding of disability or it's reluctance to be shoehorned into bureaucratic boxes but not to anyone else, particularly not the people falling outside of those boxes and missing out on vital services and equipment.

        Living in a very small one bedroom flat with standard sized doorways I could maybe just about get a power wheelchair into my home, but it would only be possible because I'm physically so petite. Given that Ehlers Danlos Syndrome affects the entire body, the demands of getting into and out of a powerchair everytime I needed to move to another part of the flat would be equal to, if not worse than the demands of staggering around the flat, I'd just be trading one set of dislocations for another, equally painful and degenerative set.  The additional downside of using a wheelchair indoors would of course be a further, rapid deterioration in my overall condition, leading to more dislocations, more pain and more disability. Remaining a part time wheelchair user is optimum for my physical and mental health, the overall cost to the NHS and the benefits bill, but does not fit within the rules of the system.

        BendyGirl sitting in her attendant wheelchair
        I have an attendant wheelchair, the kind that can only be used if you have someone to push you. It's great, but means I can't go anywhere to use it unless I can find someone who's not busy and is both willing and able to push me around. It's also difficult socially as typically people walk or wheel side by side, and being in an attendant chair prevents that. I suspect it's one reason why small children get so fractious in pushchairs, being unable to see or properly speak to the person pushing you is conducive only to tantrums.

        I am not entitled to a standard manual wheelchair as the system recognises that it would be dangerous for me to use one. I could attempt to persuade my GP to risk his professional reputation and a future negligence action by getting him to sign me as fit to use a self propelled wheelchair, but he should no more be put in that position than I should be put in the position of having to lie and say I would use a wheelchair full time indoors. If my GP were willing to claim that I'm capable of using a wheelchair I'm very obviously not, then I could obtain an NHS voucher and purchase a power assisted lightweight wheelchair myself, making up the rest of the cost out of my benefits. That is unlikely to happen, partly because my GP wouldn't deem me fit to use a self propel wheelchair and partly because the kind of lightweight, power assisted wheelchair I would need would be cost prohibitive.

        It is possible to use High Rate Mobility Allowance to purchase a powered wheelchair...but not if you're already using that HRM to fund a car. I am currently not using my HRM for either, it goes into general living/travel expenses as I already had a car, but as I need to change my car to a more accessible vehicle, assuming there are no problems with my DLA reapplication the HRM will be committed fully to a vehicle leaving no money for a wheelchair. 

        So, once again I'm back at square one. There is absolutely no doubt that an appropriate wheelchair would make it more likely for me to obtain paid work. Access to work is the scheme set up to provide specialist equipment to disabled people to enable them to work. Unfortunately one needs an actual job, or concrete job offer to use access to work, and I have neither. The 8 hours a week I'll be doing from my sofa on a voluntary basis absolutely won't count. 

        I have three options. One; the situation remains as it is now, hopefully improved if BendyBus ever gets it's act together enough to leave the care of mechanics. Two; I lie. To my GP, to my consultants, to the wheelchair centre and claim I will use a power wheelchair full time indoors for six months so that they eventually consider me for a powerchair which works both outdoors and indoors. Three; I try to navigate the maze of charities and beg for funding, unlikely to be secured as EDS is not important enough a condition to have rich and powerful charitable representation. 

        The years of not being diagnosed and accused of being a liar have left me with a stubborn determination to cling to the truth at all costs. I am just not willing to put myself in a position where I have to lie to the clinicians caring for me, even if that lie weren't completely detrimental to all concerned. I don't have the energy or the mental strength I'd need to go cap in hand to a round of charities, which leaves option one as the only choice.

        More than three years on...I'm still missing out.

        Also posted as a guest post at;
        Shoutaboutit's blog
        A Very British Dude


        Work Part 6 - I knew it was too good to be true

        10/11/2010 09:44:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 38 Comments

        Part 1 - Employment History
        Part 2 - The Application
        Part 3 - The Telephone Interview
        Part 4 - OMG I've got the job!
        Part 5 - There's always a but...

        I spoke to S, my Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) today and told her the good news. She's delighted for me. Which is good, because as I'd already begun to fear the rest of the news is far from good.

        Permitted Work while receiving Income Support means I can only keep £20 of anything I earn each week. I foolishly assumed that meant I could just be paid £20 a week in expenses but unfortunately it's not that simple. Minimum wage is now £5.93 an hour, but 8 hours of work for £20 is £2.50 per hour, way below that.  With the word manager in the job title it is likely to attract someone's attention during the administrative process of applying for permitted work and be highlighted as concern about a company contravening minimum wage legislation and exploiting a disabled person using the permitted work scheme. That situation may well occur, but in this case my employer is desperate to do everything they possibly can to enable disabled people to work using the permitted work scheme and want to ensure they are fairly paid for everything they do. 

        To protect myself and my employer the only option would be for them to pay me minimum wage for the full 8 hours and for me to declare that each time to the Department of Work and Pensions. The DWP would then deduct that sum from my Income Support each week. There are other potential pitfalls to do with nominal wages and impacts on my other benefits such as Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax benefits, but the main concern is national minimum wage.

        I'll be honest, I simply do not have it in me to declare the money to the DWP and have it deducted from my benefits each week. I can't deal with the bureaucracy or the constant stress that can cause, especially not so soon after filling out my Disability Living Allowance forms, never mind the chaos that would ensue should it impact upon my other benefits. All that hope and excitement I felt when I was told I had got the job has been destroyed by bureaucracy.

        The anomaly surrounding permitted work has been removed from Employment and Support Allowance which doesn't distinguish between contribution and non contribution related incapacity benefits and allows either claimant to do permitted work. ESA also allows for permitted work to continue longer than the mandated 12 month maximum for Incapacity Benefit claimants after which they have to move into full time work, supported by tax credits if necessary or they have to stop their permitted work for a year, after which they can return to the permitted work scheme for another year. Presumably Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Credit scheme also allows for long term permitted work. It's great that this obstacle has been recognised and ironed out of the system but that doesn't help me or any of the other people in reciept of Incapacity Benefit or Income Support who have yet to be migrated to ESA. Whether or not claimants will still be transferred onto ESA in the years before Universal Credit is introduced is not yet clear, as going through two separate, enormous migrations of benefits within 5 years, with all the administrative costs, stress and bureaucracy would seem ludicrous, especially at a time when saving money but protecting services is supposed to be the priority.   For now claimants have to deal with the system as it stands, and that means abiding by the current rules for permitted work.

        I want this job enough to say to my employers that I'd like to do it on a voluntary basis, so that is what we've agreed upon. It's still exciting and I'm so happy to have the opportunity to work in a formal role for a project I really believe in, but all that joy at finally getting an actual paying job has been ruined by the inconsistencies of the benefits system.


        Work Part 5 - There's always a but...

        10/11/2010 07:36:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

        Part 1 - Employment History
        Part 2 - The Application
        Part 3 - The Telephone Interview
        Part 4 - OMG I've got the job!

        I'm not entitled to do permitted work as I don't receive Incapacity Benefit. Well, I sort of am as you can do permitted work whilst receiving Income Support but I'm only allowed to keep £20 a week of anything I earn. I'm disappointed, but it's still an amazing opportunity and that £20 a week will definitely come in handy to cover my rent shortfall. Fortunately the employers don't mind and because of who they are I have no concerns about being exploited. Also, it's a proper job, eight hours a week from home. It's all a bit frustrating but I'm so happy someone interviewed me and wanted to employ me that I don't care.

        I don't know how to go about notifying the DWP about working so my new employers and I have agreed I will contact my Disability Employment Advisor to find out the details and we'll take it from there.


        Work part 4 - OMG I've got the job!!!!

        10/11/2010 06:19:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

        Part 1 - Employment History
        Part 2 - The Application
        Part 3 - The Telephone Interview

        I'm so excited I'm incoherent. I've got a job. Me. After 7+ years out of work. I'm so happy I could literally faint.

        I can't quite believe it, it's amazing. Someone wants to employ me, in a job I can do from home. Actually, I am going to faint now.

        I've got a job!!!!


        Work part 3 - The telephone interview

        10/11/2010 07:28:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

        Part 1 - Employment History Part 2 - The Application

        It went well, or at least I think it did. It's hard to judge how an interview went with such a lack of interview and work experience, but close friends and a fellow blogger have given me loads of emotional support, advice and reassurance. It's fingers crossed and hope for the best time now whilst they make their decision.


        Work - Part 2 - The Application

        10/10/2010 10:07:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

        Recently I saw a job advertised which I was really excited about. The job description could have been written for me, and best of all, the job was part time working from home, 15 hours a week using the Permitted Work Scheme for Incapacity Benefit. Not only that, but it was for a company who's whole ethos I really believe in. 

        So, I've applied. It took quite alot of dithering and stress as it's all coinciding with the tail end of DLA form filling but I've decided the worst they can say is 'no thanks' and I've got nothing to lose. Well, nothing except another knock to my confidence. I've written the asked for personal statement and blog post, sent them off and then spent the past few days stressing myself out that I've done it all wrong and not provided the information they asked for at all. 

        The good news is I must've done something right as I've got through to the telephone interview stage. Woohoo! Just getting that far is an enormous boost, but I'm still really nervous about the prospect of the actual interview.


        Work - Part 1 - Employment History

        10/10/2010 07:09:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

        I've applied for a job. Gulp. It's been a long time since I've worked, so long it all feels like a lifetime ago. I was 13 when I got my first job, a sunday morning paper round with a bag of papers so heavy I gave up on the idea of a bike after being picked off the floor by several kind strangers, something I did not then forsee becoming a theme in my life. As soon as I turned 14 I graduated to after school shop work, waitressing, babysitting and later the glamour of washing dishes in a restaurant at the weekends. I worked all the way through school and university - like most students of my age group I had more than one job alongside studying nannying, bar work, shop work, whatever I could get.

        My first recognised dislocation happened when I was working as a camp counselor in the USA, a couple of weeks after I finished my finals. It was a serious one, in retrospect it was far more than just the shoulder dislocation I was treated for as it also affected my spine and ribs. Surgery to repair my shoulder came at the end of the summer and I returned to the UK to recover a few days later.

        I claimed benefits then, reluctantly so, but knowing that I would be without income for at least a few months it was the only option. It was 1998 so a nice lady from the DSS came out to the house, filled the form in whilst I was there and was able to ascertain that the injuries I had were genuine. Those benefits ran out 3 months later, by which time I'd been told I probably needed further surgery to my shoulder, but not to worry, I was young and so could just treat it as a year out then get on with my career.

        I got a job waitressing in a busy restaurant but within the first few weeks it became very obvious that I couldn't even carry a single plate without causing my shoulder to dislocate. I stuck at it, thinking my strength would improve but before long my shoulder was getting worse and I reluctantly gave up the job. Giving up that work meant returning to the jobs I'd had whilst at university. I'd worked as a hostess/cashier in a local restaurant and hadn't wanted to return there as the owner really enjoyed sexually harrassing me, but it was work, it paid relatively well and the chefs would intervene, hide me in the kitchen and make me food until I'd finished crying on the occasions the owner went too far. One of the regular customers managed a local veterinary practice and after witnessing many incidences of the boss's idea of humour told me that I absolutely did not have to put up with such abuse and arranged an interview at the veterinary practice he managed. I got the job as a receptionist and was able to leave the restaurant. I also worked 16 hours a week in a video shop earning just under the limit to pay national insurance, although I did for the first time earn enough to pay national insurance when I was working at the vets. They were jobs I could fit in around physiotherapy and hospital appointments and were far easier on my joints than the physically demanding restaurant jobs had been.

        The year out turned into another and I found I was still waiting for surgery.  By the time I reached the top of the waiting list there was far more damage to my shoulder than there had previously been, but for what at the time were inexplicable reasons the surgery didn't work as expected and I found myself able to do far less than I'd been able to do before. I just couldn't manage to keep up both jobs and physiotherapy so eventually, some months later I had to give up the job in the vets. By then it was more than two years since I'd finished university, once again I was on a waitinglist for surgery and really panicking about my future. It was impossible to find full time work that I was able to do physically and that would be possible to fit around the random nature of NHS appointments so I continued working 16 hours a week, not earning enough to pay National Insurance and waiting to 'get better'.

        'Getting better' never happened, in fact things just got worse and in addition to the physical difficulties I was experiencing I was starting to have serious psychological issues as those around me went from sceptical glances to outright criticism, fuelled by the doctors treating me, some of whom had no qualms screaming at me in front of a ward full of other patients that I was wasting their time and had nothing wrong with me a psychologist couldn't fix. No-one ever did refer me to that mythical 'able to cure everything psychologist', but many, many insisted they would.

        I applied for jobs, lots of jobs, anything and everything but I already had several years of health issues and part time work to explain away. Once employers heard that I was on a waiting list for further corrective surgery they were understandably uninterested. I gave up on any kind of graduate job after going through the interview process for the NHS graduate management scheme. I reached the final interview stages and was told by the Chief Executive who interviewed me that I'd given the most impressive interview she'd seen, after which I had been recommended for a place. However, they regretted to inform me I had not been successful and she could only urge me to reapply when 'my health was more settled' following the next surgery as she could not see any reason I would not be successful. I never did reapply, my confidence had been destroyed by then.

        The next surgery eventually came, then the next, and a few more for good measure with a few experiemental procedures along the way and before I knew it I was over 25 with a patchy at best employment record, still living with my parents and too unwell to even manage 16 hours work a week. The benefits system had moved on, slightly stern but kindly ladies no longer came out to fill in the forms and check circumstances were as claimed, you just had to figure it out for yourself and wait months while the details on the form were checked. As I was over 25 I was no longer protected by the 'young person's rule' which exempts younger people who've been in full time education from the need for National Insurance contributions to claim Incapacity Benefit. I was 26 and had been working in part time roles that didn't earn enough to pay National Insurance so I fell through the gaps in the system onto Income Support, a distinction that would later prove vital.

        I carried on applying for jobs, although my physical and mental health were very poor. After years of failed surgeries and outright disbelief I reached a point where I had no idea whether I was so mentally unwell that I was doing all this to myself and just didn't know. Diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome was still several years in my future and I was desperate and depressed. I was fighting a GP who made his view that I was a lying attention seeker abundantly clear and blocked an initial application for Disability Living Allowance.

        Finally after being sent to a psychiatrist and widely regarded as lazy and workshy my shoulder surgeon promised that was it as far as surgical treatment options were concerned and one of my job applications offered me an interview. It was a part time, low waged, administrative role in the NHS but I was overjoyed, seeing it as a stepping stone to a career. I was offered the job after interview and started in the February of 2003. Access to Work, the scheme which provides equipment and support to disabled people in the workplace had a duty to assess people within 6 weeks of their start date. My assessment was 5+ weeks after I started working, which doesn't sound much but by then the damage had been done. I was working in a very isolated part of the hospital, alone in an office which was in a locked corridor. I felt far more lonely than I had done when I was out of work with the added complications of an unsuitable chair and an old folding table doing the job of a desk. It had metal edges and cut into my arms as I tried to sit high enough to reach it.

        When Access to Work eventually assessed me they came up with all manner of adjustments to make, but as is so often the case I was shoehorned into them rather than the adjustments being customised to my needs. A phenomenally expensive height adjustable desk and special supportive chair were ordered, but the chair was that bit too big and my feet never reached the floor. Despite the high price tag they didn't make chairs or desks that went small enough and I certainly wasn't confident enough to object. I loved being employed but was struggling physically and emotionally which was compounded after a serious dislocation in the office when I was alone meant I remained on the floor for an unknown length of time before being carried out of the hospital I worked in by paramedics taking me to another hospital. 

        I was 'medically suspended' after that until the correct office furniture and equipment arrived which took some months. In fact it took so long for all the equipment recommended by Access to Work to arrive that some of it still had not turned up after I'd become too sick to work and had lost my job by September 2003.

        Although I'd had more time off sick than I had worked my employers wanted to keep me as they had no concerns with my work or committment to the job. A 12 month unpaid career break was negotiated so that I could return to work at the same grade although probably not the same role once my health had stabilised.

        I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in February of 2004 by which time I was desperately unwell, in debt, disabled and on the verge of mental breakdown after so many years of disbelief and accusations of malingering. My award letter informing me I'd been awarded Disability Living Allowance arrived the morning I was to travel to London and be diagnosed, the award dated from prior to the loan I'd taken out to survive whilst I had no wages or benefits and would have negated the need for the loan had I known.

        The disbelief and disrespect I'd been shown by so many doctors continued to cause problems for me despite being diagnosed by an internationally recognised expert in Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. A rehabilitive programme was suggested but never materialised once I returned to my own area. My shoulder surgeon looked extremely uncomfortable but to his credit apologised to my face for having missed the underlying cause of my problems. Other doctors had left themselves no room for retreat from their accusations towards me and continued to disbelieve me, to the extent that I was accused of having falsified the letter sent to my GP by Professor Grahame after he diagnosed me. It was an impossible situation for all concerned. After I was able to change to a new GP practice this problem was gradually left behind but all the accusations of attention seeking still remain on my medical records.

        When my twelve month career break was over I'd still not managed to find a way of accessing any of the rehabilitation methods recommended and had to regretfully inform my employers that not only was I not fit to return to work but that there was no expectation that would change in the immediate future as I was unlikely to be able to access any treatment or support.

        That was the last time I worked.


        Bendy in print...

        10/07/2010 12:27:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

        BendyCat sitting on an open copy of All Together Now!
        My first ever column 'I want more!' has been printed in All Together Now! magazine. I'm a bit excited, as is BendyCat who celebrated the occasion in time honoured kitteh tradition by sitting on the column. 

        Fortunately my twitter friends are a very knowledgeable bunch when it comes to accessibility issues and fellow disability rights blogger @samedifference1 has explained the magazine can be viewed as a pdf document for those outside the north west. Thanks Sarah!

        You can read my column via All Together Now!'s online archive. It's page 19 of the current issue (Oct-Nov 2010) and is to the far right hand side of the page.


        Bog Off - Exhibit 30 Starbucks Special!

        10/06/2010 03:24:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

        This is an extra special Starbucks themed BogOff sent in by  BogOff fan Arienette. The photos feature the Woolwich branch of Starbucks in SE London, but BSS is also pleased to report a Starbucks BogOff twitter special.

        Recently a fellow tweeter @trufflepotamus visited her local Starbucks, in Norwich, @trufflepotamus has some mobility issues but is not overtly visibly disabled. Whilst she was there she asked to use the disabled toilet as walking upstairs is difficult, tiring and painful. She was refused access to the disabled toilet by a staff member who informed her that the disabled toilet was only to be used by customers in wheelchairs.

        Starbucks are one of the biggest companies to have adopted the use of social media. So, as soon as I heard about @trufflepotamus's experience I tweeted @Starbucks to inform them. To their credit a response was swift, with an immediate apology and assurances to investigate. Before long the managing director of Starbucks UK, Darcy Wilson-Rymer had tweeted his apology and asked for contact details so Starbucks could investigate. That was followed up by an email from Starbucks customer services team also apologising and promising to put right the problem. Starbucks contacted @trufflepotamus directly to ascertain the details and have reassured her that the official Starbucks policy is "just say yes" to any customer who requests to use the disabled toilet. They have also assured @trufflepotamus that they will provide retraining to the staff at the Norwich branch so they are all clear about this policy and have sent her a Starbucks card so she can return and enjoy the facilities on them.

        Starbucks have led the way here and set an example to other companies about how social media can allow them to engage with their customers and help the company address issues promptly. It is fantastic to see that Starbucks immediately apologised and promised to do better, a stark contrast to experiences disabled people such as myself have had when dealing with other large companies such as Wetherspoons

        Whilst I'd like to congratulate Starbucks and give them full marks for their behaviour over this incident I'd also like to take the opportunity to let them know there are issues with disability access and awareness in their other branches, such as this BogOff taken by BogOff fan Arienette  at the Woolwich branch of Starbucks in South East London. Will Starbucks UK lead the way and receive the first company wide Bog of Beauty award for their disabled toilets? I do hope so...

        View of disabled toilet with grab rails to right and left. Emergency alarm cord is tied up away from the floor around one grab rail. The bins are obstructing the transfer area.

        "There were some very good and very bad points about this toilet which is in the Woolwich branch of Starbucks in south east London.

        The toilet is down a fairly narrow hallway. If you had anything other than a standard sized wheelchair and standard sized arms, you'd be in a tight spot. The door is also difficult to manouver with a pushchair and weakling arms, so I'm assuming it would be very difficult with a wheelchair.

        The room is well lit but not blinding. It was clean, there was no debris on the floor and it didn't smell of anything, although it didn't smell pleasant, either. Actually thats just how I like my bogs, the overwhelming smell of fresheners or bleach can make me faint.

        There's a baby-change (isn't there always? Well, no, actually, the disabled toilet in the Starbucks on Southamptom Row had nothing and I had to change the baby on the toilet lid. It was awesome. Not.) but it doesn't stick out too far when folded up, which is good, because the room itself is obviously built to minimum size standards. Again, if you had anything other than a standard size wheelchair you'd be in trouble.
        Close up view of alarm cord tied firmly to grab rail and impossible to reach from the floor

        Emergency Cord tied up out of the way, as always (I untied it, although have little hope that it will remain that way),  and the bins were in the way of the transfer area.
        View of mirror at standard height above sink with adjacent grab rail

        However, there were two mirrors. One at 'normal' height above the sink, and one lower down, perfectly positioned for wheelchair height.  However, again, in a larger wheelchair you may have to bend out to apply your lipgloss, because the mirror is tucked away in the corner.
        View of wheelchair height mirror next to hand dryer at angle showing it would be difficult to see into from a wheelchair

        All in all, a mixed bag. Better than most, but still falling short of the ideal. And really, why should a realistically usable disabled toilet be 'the ideal'?"

        Thanks to Starbucks UK, @trufflepotamus and Arienette for this extra special BogOff - the disabled and parent/child users of your accessible facilities look forward to a positive response once more!  


        'Benefit Thief' By Blood In The Sand

        10/05/2010 12:52:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

         Originally posted here by Blood In The Sand

        It was Wednesday, free money day, a reason to get out of bed. So I did. I then wandered down to the post office and stood in line with old dears posting mittens to grandsons, businessmen posting invoices and mums paying the gas and electric.

        There were tuts and frowns of course, I mean I was 23 years old. Should have been out grafting, earning some wedge. A smartly dressed middle aged woman even said as much. 'Young man, hang your head in shame. I've never claimed benefits once.'

        I looked at her and thought of my mum. I then grabbed my free money and bought 20 cigarettes with it. This didn't go down well with Mrs Average. 'Well how pleased am I my taxes pay for your cigarettes. I suppose you'll be off to the pub to waste the rest?' Her voice was raised and it brought disapproving looks and more tut-tutting from others.

        I closed my eyes. Screaming, terror. My friend holding a severed head in his hand, 'Do I bury this mate or just bin it?' I looked at the attractive lady and smiled at her. 'Fuck off, you civvy cunt before I gouge your painted fucking eyes out.'

        The man behind the counter took offense and joined the fray. 'Steady on son, there's no need for that.' I spun round to look at him and he saw for a brief moment the hate and pain inside my head. He went back to shuffling the papers and I went to the pub.

        I should have been out looking for a job, instead of pouring whisky and beer down my throat. I felt bad about my unkind words, then I remembered faces shattered by metal and ordered more whisky.

        That night I sat on a stool, pissed out of my head with a rope around my neck trying to find the balls to save the taxpayers some cash. But I wasn't brave enough. So I cried about the war for a bit, felt sorry for myself and I hung my head in shame...


        Welfare Reform, what we know for sure..

        10/04/2010 01:43:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

        For all the people arriving here looking for answers about disability benefit cuts after Chancellor George Osborne's speech today at the Conservative Party Conference, so far all we know for sure is this;

        Universal credit is to be introduced as a replacement for Incapacity Benefit, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit etc. There is currently no information available on how UC will be set a different levels for different groups but Disability Living Allowance WILL be kept apart from this system. I can only assume that DLA entitlement will be used to indicate different levels of eligibility for the different levels of Universal Credit. Anything else would be impractical, expensive and unworkable*

        Benefits will be capped at a level meaning that no family will be better off on benefits than the average family is in work. Families with disabled members were specifically excluded from this cap which is to be welcomed. As yet there is no information available as to what definition of disability will be used. Using the Disability Discrimination Act definition of 'substantial impairment on day to day activities' would presumably set entitlement too widely to be workable so again, I assume that a level similar to that used to assess eligibility for Disability Living Allowance will be used.

        *Though that doesn't mean they won't try!


        George Osborne's speech live blog

        10/04/2010 01:00:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

        Good news? Tories in govt. Bad news? After 13 yrs Labour govt bringing country near to bankruptcy

        Responsibility to get this right in national interest

        Why, how and prize at end-reinvigorated, prosperous britain of which we can all be proud

        Waffle, waffle, waffle. Where's the detail?

        Nick Clegg chose the right thing and helped make it happen

        Bored, bored, bored. Still no detail and the waffles haven't even got maple syrup to make them tolerable

         Value, blah, blah. Values. Truth. Still no bloody detail!

        Bored of all these home truths George. They won't make me any lunch. Please, just get on with the detail. Please??

        Max limit on benefits for those out of work, set at level of average working families. So no-one ever better off on benefit than work Disabled people will NOT be included in this. 

        Opinion: Excluding disabled people from benefit limit is about the only time it's acceptable to exclude disabled people. However, until detail in the form of accurate figures is released about the different levels Universal Benefit will be set at and specifically the definition of disability to be used we won't be any the wiser than rhetoric and playing to the crowd.


        A guest post by Mr McGoo

        10/03/2010 11:10:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

        A couple of days ago, on the 1st October 2010, the Equality Act 2010 came into force. As I understand it, this offers further scope to stop disablism (amongst other issues such as sexuality, religion and gender) and allow people to be treated fairly, but in spite of this, recently Nadine Dorries MP commented that the presence of a disabled person who goes by the net-name of HumphreyCushion (and is one of Dorries' constituents no less!) on the Twitter website should be reported to the authorities. The grounds for this? Active participation by said disabled person on the website. Nadine Dorries writes:

        “If you Twitter all day, every day about claiming disability benefit in one tweet whist arranging a night out in the pub in the next... then don't expect someone like me not to a) inform the authorities and b) tell you to get of [sic] your Twitter and get a job.”

        This comment by someone who has been elected to serve the people, not least serve the constituent she attacks, has made me seriously ponder on how disabled people are still seen by certain people in sections of society, even in the 21st century, and review reactions to my sight disability.

        Without further ado, let's introduce myself. I'm Mr McGoo (obviously a pseudonym), and I became visually impaired a couple of years ago. I'm a married male living in a quaint shire town in England. I regularly come across a few myths about disability in general, and I want to put them, at least from my point of view (no pun intended) to bed.

        “Disabled people get loads of benefits; they're financially all right!”

        I don't. I struggle to make ends meet with my current financial circumstances. I work full-time for a wage, and have done since long before I started losing my sight. The only aid I've received since getting eye trouble is government payment for equipment and tools at work to enable me to return to work after losing a lot of my sight. That's all. I've probably ended up paying for that myself anyway through the tax taken out of my own wages, in a roundabout way. The automatic assumption is that blue badges are handed out along with benefits as soon as the word disability is stuck on someone. I have neither a blue badge, nor currently receive benefits. Society has been conditioned to blame and hold as scapegoats those people who they commonly perceive most likely to remain on benefits, particularly in this fiscally tight time, and Dorries' comments only serve to strengthen this misguided conclusion. Active participation on Twitter does not make you a benefit cheat.

        “Disabled people just sit around watching Jeremy Kyle, raking in the benefits. They get more benefits not working than working!”

        Could someone please tell me if this is true? I honestly think it isn't. I actually know of no person for whom this financial urban myth is true, apart from rare examples cited in a shit-stirring ultra-right-wing gutter press newspaper. I know of only one person who by their own admission was deliberately on the fiddle with benefits, and who HAS been reported to the appropriate authorities, with a positive outcome to the taxpayer.

        The comment that disabled people rake in the benefits to the point that it's better not to attempt to work may be true in rare circumstances, but from speaking to disabled people and non-disabled, most EVERYONE finds it hard to make ends meet.

        And for the record, Jeremy Kyle is not really entertaining. It's very weak compared to the classic Jerry Springer Show.

        “Disabled people are just work-shy; disabled people would be better off working than being sick at home”

        I wish this were true. I know of one disabled person who would love to get out and work, even just one morning a week, but his disability is so debilitating that it would be impossible for an employer to consider him for employment, even with the Equality Act 2010. He tries to make the most of his time by doing home study with the Open University, but even that regularly can get too much.

        And me? There are days when I wish I could get through the day with no eye pain, but those days very rarely come along. Fortunately the rest of my body is fine, but even debilitation of organs like the eyes can hold you up and clock up a whole number of sickdays that hold you in low esteem with an employer's HR department. I love my current role, but due to the eyes, I am also much slower in my work compared to my performance before my sight problems, which combined with my sickdays, has led to my company to review my position. It has been mutually agreed that it's for the best that I'm side-railed from a hectic full-time job into a slower paced part-time job. I'd love to continue to work in my (soon to be) previous full-time role, but my eyes aren't up to it. For me it's a terrible knock, with the realisation that my eyes truly are worsening, and they're NOT going to get better.

        Also, it unfortunately leads me to start considering benefits, as I'm ultimately by going from full-time to part-time going to receive a knock to my salary, one I can ill afford. The daunting task of seeking benefits and applying for them, with the struggle of going through the various documents with my eyes even thought I have magnification equipment (in the past I've asked for government forms and documents to be provided in a large print format, only to receive them regular size) is enough to put me off claiming any benefits.

        “Disabled people fake it”

        This comment combined with the previous comment about getting loads of money on benefits. This was certainly the viewpoint taken by one manager towards me. I would have loved to have been faking it, but I am cursed with terrible eyesight. Things ultimately came to a head after months of disparaging comments (including the regular classic comments “you should have seen that” and “you're obviously not looking properly”) when I received a 15 minute bawling-out for using the wrong envelope (a simple error which can be attributed to my failing sight). I stood up for myself, told the manager in no uncertain terms that he was in the wrong for treating me this way, and since then he's backed down and no further comments have currently been made about my eyesight. Within days I was in hospital again for further deterioration of my eyesight, so I think he finally got the message I wasn't faking.

        Disability can have its ups and downs. You can sometimes catch me at my desk at work on a good day, when I am not suffering eye pain. Mr McGoo's doing well, you might say. But in five minutes time, I might unexpectedly sneeze or something like that, the simple pressure of such an action rendering my delicate eyes in pain and confusion, wiping me out for hours. The same problems of ups and downs (albeit not triggered by sneezing) can be found with other disabilities. In fact, you might like to read up on the Spoon Theory if you haven't already done so.  I certainly don't have the same condition described in The Spoon Theory, but I can empathise easily with the theory. Some days are good, some are bad, and some days I'm all out of spoons.

        “Disabled people shouldn't use the internet, or socialise”

        It is evident that one could interpret Dorries' opinion at the beginning of this article to mean that going to the pub or using the internet as a disabled person should not be allowed. The Equality Act 2010 permits disabled people to access services without discrimination, including bars, so why shouldn't a disabled person enjoy a trip to the pub and tweet about it? With some disabilities being so restricting, a trip to the pub can be a momentous thing, so disabled people should not be discriminated against or singled out for wanting a pint of beer or a lemonade.

        Furthermore, why should access to the internet be restricted to the non-disabled? When I mentioned last year in a bank that I use the net, the rude bank manager openly expressed incredulity that blind or partially sighted people could use computers. Needless to say, I changed to a more friendly bank. However, is there to be a benefits-to-tweet ratio to be imposed for disabled people, Ms Dorries? I regularly use the internet and Twitter (under my real name), but furthermore I regularly don't when my eyes are playing up. I don't tweet about my disability all day every day, but it is evident that under Dorries' imposed regulations, if you are disabled you may not use Twitter much unless you are on there only to moan about the downs of life, such as aches and pains, and not celebrate the ups such as going to the pub, or you'll be reported!

        So that's my twopence on common issues and myths that some people (and I personally) encounter about disability, which anger at Nadine Dorries has prompted me to write. There are other issues, such as the common remark “you don't look sick” and “you're not in a wheelchair” which I'm sure have been addressed elsewhere on the net. I'm sorry, I can't find links to answers to those comments right now, but my eyes have become very tired and pained writing this. I'm off now, to join the “Nadine Dorries Is Disablist And Shouldn't Be In Parliament” group on Facebook before logging off to go lie down in a dark room.


        Dole Boys

        10/01/2010 02:58:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

        By Blood In The Sand

        I logged onto Face book last night and saw some words that filled my veins with ice and left me feeling hollow and desperate.

        I'm going to and I'm gonna kill my self Ive had enough of this shit life love you all but this is it good bye

        They were written by my friend. He's unemployed and a smack head. You'll find him most days sitting in a pool of blood/sick/shit shouting at passers by. He's not worked for years...

        It's the in thing right now to put the boot into folk like my mate. Poncing off the state, a waste of space oxygen thieving bastard right? That's one description I suppose but I prefer 'Veteran.'

        I went to war with him once. We walked down Basra road together, murder mile. Body after body lay where they had died. The stench of blood, cordite, roasted meat and petrol stung my nose.

        I saw my mate sitting down next to a mangled heap of twisted metal, flesh, bone and misery. He was smoking a cigarette and tapping his fingers on his helmet.

        'You OK mate?' I asked, then wished I hadn't. How could any of us be OK in that shit hole.

        He nodded at me. 'Yeah man, it's all just a bit... Well you know.' I nodded back, I was 19 years old and dead teenagers were all around me. My mate was 17 and we called him Junior.

        Junior came home a little different, we all did. He then went to Bosnia and then he left the army. No longer part of the machine he turned to drugs to take away them dead kids on that piece of road that took a bite out of our souls.

        I saw him a couple of months ago, he looks 60 years old now, he's 37. We stood in the line, carried rifles and saw things that hurt us inside. Tears have fallen, veins have filled with heroin and we still walk the road.

        We live among society, some of us in jails, others in the gutter. What we need isn't pity, it's a hand. Junior has mine and last night was a cry for help. Others won't be heard.

        I wrote some words once...


        It isn't nice to have to beg the country you once served,
        On bended knee with cap in hand a fate quite undeserved.

        Once shiny boots now gather dust and medals hide away,
        And dead men crawl through silent dreams when darkness steals the day.

        Be the best the small screen cried enlist before the crown,
        How many of the best are now locked up in iron towns.

        The freedom they once fought to save is no longer theirs,
        These broken troops a burden on societys affairs.

        And what of those who gibber nightly screaming in their beds
        As worms crawl through the the faces of the teenage freshly dead.

        And dare not mention names of those who could not bear this strife,
        Who with rope or blade or happy pills did away with life.. 

        reposted in full with permission from Blood In The Sand


        Crippen and the disabled people's protest march on 3rd October

        10/01/2010 11:09:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

        A large black triangle on a red background. Around the three sides, printed in white read the words Disabled People's Protest

         Image and words reposted with permission from Crippen's Blog

        On Sunday 3rd October a huge protest march is taking place outside of the Conservative Party Annual Conference, which is being held this year in Birmingham.
        The protest is about the cuts being imposed upon people who rely upon benefit payments and the draconian measures being taken by the current Coalition Government against Disabled people in particular.

        The marchers will consist of representatives from Trades Unions, many groups and organisations involved in Welfare Rights, individuals and family members who are affected by the cuts, and Disabled people from all over the UK.

        Disabled people involved with the Black Triangle protest group along with other Disabled individuals have also been asked to lead the march, which is expected to attract more people than attended the anti Poll Tax marches during the Thatcher era.

        Speaking to Linda Burnip, one of the principle organisers of the march by Disabled protesters, she told me:  "As you may know, West Midlands police originally agreed that the march could go down Broad Street right past the Conservative Party conference, but then the Tory controlled Birmingham City Council refused to allow this. This meant that many Disabled people would not be able to participate in the march as the alternative route was not as accessible."

        There then followed two lengthy meetings with the police and the City Council during which the case was made by Linda and her colleagues that Disabled protesters were being denied their basic human rights to engage in legitimate protest. Following the meetings Linda reported that:  "I am pleased to say the Chief Inspector of Constabulary for West Midlands Police, Denis O'Connor is very keen to make sure that we are facilitated to protest following the large number of complaints he had received."

        Full Details - For information about attending the protest please click on the following link which will take you to the Protest web site.

        Virtual Protest - For those of us unable to attend the protest in Birmingham, we have been given an on-line alternative. Click on the following link to access the virtual protest web site and leave your comment which will be read out during the march in Birmingham.

        I would like to add that on behalf of Disabled people throughout the UK who will be affected by the cuts, our heartfelt thanks go to Linda, Eleanor, Debbie and Tina for all of their hard work in organising our participation in this important event.

        Keywords: access issues,benefit cuts,cuts to services,direct action network (dan),disabled people's movement,disabled people's protest,disabled vote,politics,user led organisations,