grayling admits more ppl sick & sicker than expected

5/30/2012 11:22:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 11 Comments

Grayling; (8 Hours ago)

We have more people fit for work, and moving to JSA.

We have more people needing long term unconditional support than expected.
And those in the middle group, who would expect before too long to be mandated to the Work Programme, have proved to be sicker and further from the workplace than we expected.

So it will take far more time than we predicted for them to be ready to make a return to work

Via hossylass


John Pring's Disability News Service - Week Beginning 25th May 2012

5/29/2012 07:37:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • A GP whose patient tried to kill himself after a “fitness for work” test is urging the government to introduce a way to allow doctors to report such cases to the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • GPs have piled new pressure on the government after unanimously calling for it to scrap its controversial “fitness for work” tests.
  • Campaigners are to ask a judge to declare that the government’s controversial “fitness for work” test is unlawful because it discriminates against people with mental health conditions.
  • The coalition appears to have ordered a lengthy delay to the publication of its cross-government disability strategy.
  • A judge has sparked concern after refusing to treat a three-year campaign of cruelty in which a disabled man was repeatedly beaten by relatives as a disability hate crime.
  • The sports body that represents Britain’s Paralympians has suggested that it is planning to take a more active stance around disability rights issues.
  • Organisers of the London 2012 Paralympics have put on sale a further one million tickets, as they marked 100 days until the games begin, and announced that the British band Coldplay would perform at its closing ceremony.
  • The lack of severely-impaired swimmers in the British team at this summer’s Paralympics could mean a missed chance to highlight sporting opportunities for other people with similar conditions, according to a leading athlete and activist.
  • Nine leading disabled activists have backed a new “contract for the future”, which lays out the 15 changes that need to be made to improve the lives of people with learning difficulties.
  • A group of thalidomide survivors from across Europe are hoping to share the knowledge they have gained from half a century of living with their impairments through a new online community.
  • Disabled activists are planning a high-profile protest that will highlight the inaccessibility of the public transport system, and demonstrate the problems that will be caused by the government’s cuts to disability living allowance.
  • A new disabled-led theatre company is setting out to hear the voices of some of the artists most often excluded and sidelined by the arts world.
For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


Retard Kitteh

5/28/2012 07:55:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

Sitting in the garden yesterday with my friend Ben we chatted about cats. As you do when one of you is a crazy cat lady and the other a vet. BendyCat sulked off in utter disgust that one of the veterinary breed had dared to pick her up without the trauma of a car journey locked in a cage, so we were forced to discuss other cats. Out of her earshot obviously, both Ben and I are fully aware of the consequences of not paying due worship to BC.

I pointed out the young cat next door, explaining that it spends its entire life tormented by the birds another neighbour feeds, that the cat just can't seem to catch. "Oh!" said Ben, "it's like a retard kitteh". I wondered how to respond, Ben's a gentle sort who wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly, so after a moment I just said "please don't use that word, it's horrible and I hate it"

Ben explained he hadn't meant anything derogatory by it, so I enquired as to whether he would have referred to it as "nigger kitteh" if it had been all black. Looking uncomfortable he said no, he wouldn't...but that he wasn't sure why he wouldn't say that...certainly not due to political felt like a wrong thing to say.

He had a think, sighing over this new interpretation of a word he likes using to mean anything that's a bit inept, then asked "What should I call it then?"

I suggested that the politically correct term might end up being "special needs kitteh"

"Oh no" he said "I can't possibly call it that, it sounds awful. I wondered why, what was it that was standing out to him as unacceptable about 'special needs kitteh' but not 'retard kitteh'. He said he wasn't sure, so I asked if it was perhaps because calling it special needs kitteh implied that it wasn't as good as all the other cats because it had some sort of learning disability.

"Yes" he said "something like just doesn't feel right"

"Definitely don't call it retard kitteh then" I said, and we moved on to talk about something else.


John Pring's Disability News Service - Week Ending May 18th 2012

5/27/2012 01:26:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • A landmark legal case could help thousands of disabled adults who are not receiving the care and support they need from their local authority.
  • A senior Labour shadow minister has launched a stinging attack on the government’s record on disability rights, and announced plans to work with disabled people to develop new policies that will “turn rights into reality”.
  • The government has caused alarm among campaigners by extending its assault on the laws that protect disabled people and other minority groups from discrimination.
  • Cuts to the funding and responsibilities of the equality watchdog could mean that its specialist disability committee is under threat, its disabled commissioner has warned.
  • A landmark court ruling is set to help disabled campaigners fight discrimination within the benefits system.
  • Disabled campaigners are likely to launch legal action against the government over its anti-inclusion education policy.
  • The government is to push ahead with plans to make it harder for disabled children to attend mainstream schools, detailed plans published this week have revealed.
  • Disabled people are still facing a “bleak picture” in their struggle to secure the support they need in the workplace, according to a new report from the equality watchdog.
  • Some wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) are potentially unsafe for passengers or drivers travelling in their wheelchairs, and should never have been allowed on the roads, claim campaigners.
  • Significant parts of the disability movement have backed disabled Remploy workers who are set to lose their jobs because of government plans to shut their sheltered factories.
  • GPs across Britain look set to call on the government to abandon its much-criticised “fitness for work” tests, giving a huge boost to disabled activists who have fought for them to be scrapped.
  • The Treasury may have failed in its legal duty to consider how some of the cuts announced in its 2010 spending review would impact on disabled people, the equality watchdog has concluded.
  • A cheerleader, an athlete and an artist are among the first disabled people chosen to take part in this summer’s Paralympic torch relay.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


Discussing Doctors

5/22/2012 08:48:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 18 Comments

My first thoughts as I left the appointment probably shouldn't have been "how on earth do I blog about this". Considering the discussion we'd just had it probably should have been "actually I don't fancy the idea of a progressive neurological disorder" but blogging is easier on the psyche.

When I started to write, five years ago today, it was under a pseudonym, no-one in the tiny corner of the internet talking about being bendy and broken bureaucracy knew who I was, so it didn't really matter what I said. Even so, I was never comfortable naming the medical professionals I was discussing, it didn't seem fair to leave a critical record of a doctor that they could find without putting my name to it too. Five years on, this blog is connected with my real name, and whilst I still don't name doctors they would certainly be able to recognise themselves should they care to look.

Which is why its now becoming more difficult to be so honest, but the point of a blog is to be that honest, and its important to find a way to do so, to be critical or complimentary in a fair way. So, before I start to explain what was discussed, some context; my rheumatologist is a lovely man, kind, gentle and empathetic. He takes time to explain things and is generally the kind of doctor who'd sit and hold a patient's hand should they need it. His intention was clearly to reassure me and be supportive not unkind or cruel, but, many of the explanations he gave me were also factually incorrect, and it would be dishonest not to address that.

I didn't feel I was really able to communicate just how bad the past six months have been health wise, but we discussed the investigations from respiratory & ENT. Doctors aren't generally trained in disability medicine, there isn't really such a speciality, the closest you could get would be to combine a GP, a general physician (who generally don't exist any more) an Occupational medicine specialist, physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, social workers CPN's and psychologists with a bizarre side order of some of the skills used by benefits assessing doctors - preferably their pre Work Capability Assessment skills! This lack of speciality means that NHS doctors generally don't pick up on the cues patients give about their level of disability. 'My neighbours bring meals in' doesn't typically translate to 'I don't have the co-ordination, strength or dexterity to prepare myself food'. To be fair, it's not supposed to, the whole training of NHS doctors is geared towards curing patients and returning them to health.

When I heard the rheumatologist say that Ehlers Danlos isn't degenerative my initial thought was 'eh, what, are we talking about the same condition?' Then there was the 'EDS isn't disabling by itself but the chronic pain can be' which confused me further - generally speaking dislocating, falling over and lacking enough muscle stregnth and co-ordination to properly work a remote control are fairly disabling things, with or without a side order of chronic pain. But, it was really the statement that EDS doesn't make people floppy that finished me off. I came away wondering if that was really the case, if somehow myself and all the other floppy bendy people and the expert EDS doctors might be wrong, but no, a quick google reassured me that if even the official NHS conditions information list EDS as one of the potential diagnosis related to hypotonia then it's my rheumatologist that's wrong, not me.

The work is generally good for you explanation made me giggle on the inside - my doctor has no idea what I do, if he had he wouldn't have given me a patronising explanation about not giving up and doing nothing, but like with the hypotonia and degeneration misinformation I just didn't have it in me to correct him. It's very difficult for both patient and doctor when the patient is extremely well informed about a condition the doctor is less familiar with and not dealing with the situation correctly will rapidly derail a consultation from either side. I was also left somewhat baffled by the 'spines are supposed to in Chinese contortionists with EDS', yes, of course spines are supposed to rotate...but I'm fairly confident that individual bony bits are not supposed to move off on their own, rotate in a different direction to the rest of the spine then get stuck there like an Occupy protest waiting for someone to move them along.

In what was a clear attempt to reassure me about the DWP my rheumatologist explained that he would certainly fill out any forms he received from them, and that he would emphasise that I'm being tested for an unknown degenerative neurological disorder too, so that should hold them off. To his credit he was aware that interpretation of the descriptors varies...but definitely not aware of what those descriptors are or the intention behind them. Funnily enough I was not overly comforted by this, and required a great deal of reassurance later from a GP friend that 'no, you're not mad', 'yes, EDS is degenerative and it very definitely makes some, but not all people floppy'.

My rheumatologist is correct to state that we shouldn't assume everything is caused by my EDS in case we miss something, so I'm being referred to Walton Neurological Centre for some tests. These are tests I've had before, prior to my diagnosis of EDS which were all completely normal then so I'm not expecting that to be any different now, but it does concern me that they are being ordered because of the assumption that EDS doesn't cause floppiness, or to term it properly, hypotonia.

It also concerns me that this is my doctor long term. Over the years I've found that some doctors instinctively and immediately grasp the fact that if your collagen, or building block of the structures is defective, then pretty much anything can be affected by that, others simply can't get to grips with that concept and talk alot about 'impossible'. Those doctors who do understand talk about 'not normal except in EDS'. This means I'm faced with the increasingly common dilemma many people with chronic and 'rare' conditions face, lack of medical expertise. I have a kind, pleasant doctor, but I'm at a bit of a loss as how to educate him on a condition that falls within his speciality but which he is clearly misinformed upon.

As people use the internet and social media more often, this situation will become more frequent. Most patients name doctors when talking or writing about them, not understanding that could leave them open to libel accusations and certainly prevent any positive therapuetic relationship should the doctor see their comments. Doctors using social media have picked up on this issue and it's fantastic to see professionals discussing it in an open, constructive manner which patients can read should they wish to do so. But as patients we don't have any codes of professional conduct to follow, so its down to the individual to act responsibly. It is certainly an issue that we as patients should also discuss amongst ourselves and the most constructive way forward seems to be to have that discussion alongside doctors to find a workable balance.


John Pring's Disability News Round Up - Week Ending 11/05/2012

5/17/2012 08:49:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

  • A disabled artist who has spent five years training young disabled people to perform in the Paralympics opening ceremony has spoken of the “disgraceful” way he has been treated by organisers of the London 2012 games.
  • A London university has defended its decision to continue to display the bones of one of the nineteenth century’s most iconic disabled figures in a private museum.
  • A cost-cutting local authority is set to force more disabled people into residential care, rather than paying for them to receive support in their own homes.
  • Campaigners have questioned the government’s commitment to supporting disabled adults, after it failed to offer any sign that reform of the funding of adult social care was imminent.
  • The government is to push ahead with special educational needs reform, but has yet to say if it will follow through on threats to reduce disabled children’s rights to be educated in mainstream schools.
  • A disabled woman was tackled to the floor by a security guard after she complained about not being allowed to return her new mobile phone, only minutes after signing the contract.
  • The government’s own benefits advice body has called for financial compensation to help those disabled people set to lose out from the government’s reforms and cuts to spending on disability living allowance.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


£25bn of extra welfare cuts? LOL DC

5/16/2012 12:58:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

Today, quietly, behind the headlines screaming of further welfare cuts, ‘the deserving’ blind people and service personnel likely to lose eligibility for disability benefits, Leveson, Coalition car crash and unemployment statistics, two important welfare events are occurring in the House of Commons. 

One of the contributors to the Spartacus Report, Declan Gaffney is launching his report, co-authored with Kate Bell into what is living and what is dead in the contributory principle. At the same time, Shadow Minister for DWP, Liam Byrne is giving the second of his Beveridge anniversary speeches , Renewing Universalism. Two sides of the same coin, unfortunately scheduled for the same time. 

Declan and Kate’s report is a detailed look at contribution from a policy perspective, whilst Liam Byrne’s speech is set to show us the first indication of direction the Labour party intend to take both politically and in policy now that Jon Cruddas has taken over the overall policy review. 

Labour have made many mistakes these past two years with welfare and disability rights, they failed to oppose the welfare reform bill as effectively as they could have done, distracted by arguing amongst themselves as to which direction to take. They dithered around the derogatory language and media attacks upon sick and disabled people, adding to the burden with stories of ‘how they met a man, who really could, if he just did as he should’ 

But, eventually, slowly, Labour as a party did seem to acknowledge some of the concerns being raised by sick and disabled people. They did not come to this knowledge and understanding easily, it took determined efforts by campaigners from all parts of the political spectrum to make the Labour party notice us and the slow, inevitable car crash of human despair and misery being caused by the flawed Work Capability Assessment. 

It remains to be seen what direction Labour will take on disability issues, but this afternoon’s speech from Liam Byrne will give us a good indication of that. 

We should listen with open ears, to hear what is actually being said. Whatever the past mistakes made by the Labour party they have the opportunity to show they have listened to our messages, fears and call for rights and to be the opposition to simply slashing benefits and services that sick and disabled people so desperately need.

Updated 18:47: Link to transcript of Liam Byrne's #Beveridge2 speech 


Welfare Writing - Detail Matters

5/15/2012 10:27:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

Yesterday saw multiple articles written on 'welfare reform' ranging from the rantings of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whose point about levels of disability and benefit qualifcation got lost in his rambling rhetoric to the astonishing accusation from Cristina Odone in the Telegraph that Iain Duncan Smith must not give into the 'disability bullies'. Perhaps it was the day of fury but mostly utter mocking disabled people issued to Odone and The Telegraph which produced an unusual and curious article about DLA reform from director of Policy Exchange Think Tank Neil O'Brien. 

Much of Neil's piece is clearly intended to be empathetic and a way for the Telegraph to offer an alternative to the multiple derogatory articles run already that day. In fact, some of Neil's piece is excellent, but he goes on to make some startling allegations because like most people writing on welfare reform, Neil lacks in depth knowledge. 

Anyone who has an overview of the case law relating to disability living allowance could immediately contextualise and recognise the quote Neil cites from the advocacy website Benefits and Work;

Actually it sounds terrible - for someone with no detailed knowledge of disability living allowance or how it is qualified for it appears to be a website offering up ways to defraud the system. However, like much of welfare fraud perception, this is yet another myth. The quote benefits and work are using comes from a famous precedent judgement about what DLA is intended to cover, handed down by Lord Denning in Packer's Case (1981) Lord Denning says;

"Bodily functions include breathing, hearing, seeing, eating, drinking , walking, sitting, sleeping, getting in or out of bed, dressing, undressing, eliminating waste products - and the like - all of which an ordinary person - who is not suffering from any disability - does for himself. But they do not include cooking, shopping or any of the other things which a wife or daughter does as part of her domestic duties; or generally which one of the household normally does for the rest of the family......ordinary domestic duties such as shopping, cooking meals, making tea or coffee, laying the table or the tray, carrying it into the room, making the bed or filling the hot water bottle, do not qualify as 'attention .... in connection with (the) bodily functions' of the disabled person. But those duties that are out of the ordinary - doing for the disabled person what a normal person would do for himself - such as cutting up food, lifting the cup to the mouth, helping to dress and undress or at the toilet - all do qualify as 'attention ... in connection with (the) bodily functions' of the disabled person."

The language in this decision grates in the modern world, and one wonders if it also seemed somewhat strange to base a welfare benefits decision upon the ordinary 'things which a wife or daughter does as part of her domestic duties' in the 1980's but this is a particularly important piece of legal advice which has been used since then to define the bodily functions which qualify for help with Disability Living Allowance and those which don't. As you can see shopping is very clearly excluded, the citation in practice being used to refer to grocery shopping for which DLA does not cover support with. 

The contrast with window shopping used by Benefits and Work is harking back to the judgement of Lord Denning in a slightly humourous way - a joke which would be lost upon anyone not enough of a welfare wonk to be familiar with Lord Denning's somewhat sexist view of the world. B&W will have chosen window shopping either because there's a further precedent upon that activity I'm unfamiliar with, or more likely because it directly fits with the very clearly defined criteria of eligibility for the mobility part of DLA - if someone is unable to walk themselves and needs help to push their wheelchair they'd be eligible for DLA mobility on that basis which they could chose to pay for someone to take them window shopping. 

But once again, this lack of depth and understanding by those commentating so 'knowledgably' upon welfare reform causes the truth to be distorted. In this particular incidence a well regarded, reputable welfare advocacy website who's own community would attack with fury anyone they discovered to be using the information for criminal purposes has effectively been defamed by the Telegraph because the writer was not familiar enough with his subject and presumably neither were the Telegraphs lawyers. 

It's even more of a shame, not just for the dedicated people at Benefits and Work who will have to fight to restore their reputation, but because there are a small number of so called advocacy services who charge relatively high fees for a 'medical professional' to process welfare claims they presumably know to be fraudulent. I predict that these companies will grow to exploit genuine claimants as the effects of the Legal Aid Bill come into place and mean vulnerable people use them in desperation as the traditional advice services disappear along with their funding. Such companies are exploitative and breaking the law on many levels but they are a world away from the reasoned, legally checked advice given by sites like Benefits and Work. 

It just takes a welfare wonk to know that. And sadly none of the mainstream media appear to be able to access such knowledge.


IDS & his welfare reform zeal - so much for the road to Easterhouse

5/14/2012 10:36:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

Daily Mail

April 13, 1994

Every day, every working Briton pays £13 in tax to those on state benefit And it's going to get worse...

REVOLUTIONARY new policy plans aimed at reducing the cost of the welfare state will be passed to 10 Downing Street and to Peter Lilley, Social Security Secretary, at the end of this week.
Here the author of those plans gives Daily Mail readers an exclusive preview of the main points.
Byline: Iain Duncan-Smith
ODD, isn't it, that as Britain's standard of living has steadily improved, the number of people claiming State benefits has increased, rather than declined?
It makes no sense, yet it is undeniably true. In 1949 social security spending represented 4.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product; today it has reached 12.5 per cent. Every day, £13 of every worker's tax is spent on social security and over the coming decade this spending will grow faster than the economy. Unless we reform the system now, we are heading towards crisis. The problem lies in the very way the system works. Far from merely providing people in need with a national minimum level of subsistence, it encourages dependency. This would have horrified William Beveridge, who engineered our Welfare State after the war. In 1942, in his Beveridge Report, he warned: 'The danger of providing benefits which are both adequate in amount and indefinite in duration is that men, as creatures who adapt to circumstances, will settle down to them.'

Social security spending since 1979, despite all the talk of cuts under the Conservatives, has increased in real terms by 75 per cent. The number of people receiving invalidity benefit, for example, has shot up from 600,000 to 1.5 million - this at a time of generally improved levels of health. The number on single-parent benefit has trebled, too.
The scope of the benefits system, and its complicated bureaucracy, has grown to equally mammoth proportions. Vast sums of money are lavished on running something which is, inevitably, prone to abuse on a massive scale. What we need are fundamental changes - and soon.
Most of us do not question the principle of helping those in genuine need and the more prosperous a country becomes, the better it should be able to do just that. However, with increased national prosperity, fewer people should need to rely on State help.
At present we make payments to the old, the sick and those with children, regardless of their financial situation. This nonsense means that a major part of the expenditure goes to help people who don't need the money in the first place. Take child benefit and widow's benefit; only 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively goes to those with the lowest incomes.
An even greater problem is the way in which the system discourages people from getting a job. In many cases someone can have a higher income through claiming benefits than by earning a wage. Hence people become trapped, remaining dependent on the State rather than on their working abilities. No matter how much someone wants to work, a job is not a particularly attractive option if it means financial loss.
What's more, the system actively encourages people to change or disguise their lifestyles in order to maximise their benefit entitlement. Who can doubt, for example, that some of the mothers now claiming single-parent benefit are actually living with a partner more or less full-time?
Throughout the Eighties, as the Government changed the eligibility criteria, it found that more, not fewer, people made claims. Yet at the same time there is a growing underclass of genuinely needy people who receive nothing, mainly because they don't understand what they are entitled to. The mixture of different benefits is a complex and tangled web to them.
It should make us all angry that while many deserving cases are failed by the system, the greedy and workshy profit from it. Benefit fraud is now estimated at £5 billion per year.
So what can be done to bring about a real welfare society of the sort Beveridge worked so hard to create, instead of the inferior version we have now?
First of all, the range of benefits we now have - universal, flat-rate, contribution-based and means-tested - should all be integrated. There should be just one, income-assessed benefit, with all the relevant factors taken into account to cater for the needs of the individual and his family.
This should be administered by one body, instead of the multitude of offices, each handling one type of benefit, we have now. It would be simpler to understand, cheaper to administer, and would help in the battle against fraud (especially if claimants had to use identity cards).
The new benefit must also aim to make going back to work a more attractive option for the unemployed. The benefit should not be set too high and would need to be 'tapered' so that if people took jobs paying less than current benefits, they would not lose all their benefits immediately. The State would make up the difference between work income and social security income. The reforms ought to go wider still. We should learn from the success of the 15 million people who have opted out of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) and abolish it altogether. The public has a greater choice and better service with private pension schemes, the State's record is abysmal.
Most people believe that they have been contributing to their future needs through their National Insurance payments. Politicians of all persuasions have been happily misleading the public about this for too long. The truth is that National Insurance is just another form of taxation; it goes towards paying for a number of different benefits right now. It is not, as so many think, like saving for a rainy day with a building society. On the contrary, as soon as it is handed over, the money is paid out - to someone else.
Beveridge's idea was that the insurance scheme would meet all basic needs but, once again, his principle has been twisted over the decades into something else.
Who can argue that State pension reforms are not long overdue? MPs of all parties have, either quietly or vociferously, recognised this as a fact. In so many areas of our lives, choice and value for money is provided by the private sector. I believe it is time to open up this bastion of the inefficient nanny State to the private sector too and allow people to choose how their money is spent.
The Government should also, in due course, merge the tax and benefit systems. This would cut down on bureaucratic costs and give a much more accurate record of income. We need to streamline and simplify our great, unwieldy State machinery, and focus our national wealth where it is most needed. Only then will we begin to be true to the ideals of William Beveridge and his brainchild, the British Welfare State.