.@Bendy_Cat and #PIP – and why I just had to say my piece

1/28/2013 10:46:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

Link to @bendy_cat's TV debut on yesterdays Sunday Politics Show

 An exclusive interview as told to @hossylass

Like “Hi everyone”, and that includes you, my new admirers. Guess you are all reading this cos like, I’m a Celebrity now and you will be hanging onto my every purr. I should think so too! My fame is long overdue, and my Girly (@BendyGirl) will suffer from keeping my light hidden under a bushel for so long.

I think its just jealously… she knew I would be a much more formidable opponent, and I have better fur than her, but like she is totes the idiot sometimes. Anyway, finally she rectified this by allowing ME some tv time for a change.

And not before time, cos a natural born leader like myself has NEEDS. Ok, sometimes those needs are aligned to Girly’s needs, but this feline ain’t going without.  And if that means I take the cat-scrap to that Esther McVey person, then so be it – I has sharpened my claws baby, and you is sooo gonna get it.

I think I made my point very clearly in the interview – I repeatedly turned my sexy tush at that camera, and I hope those scheming thieves at tory central got the message. This pussy ain’t for turnin’ so yous better watch your eyes!

So what are my needs? Well I has a touch of the old arthritis, and need a very special mattress – lucky that Girly needs one too, so we share. Girly bought that for me out of her DLA, though sometimes she is so selfish she says she bought it for HER condition primarily as its HER bed!

It’s the same about the heating – I need it warm, my poor old bones and joints are agony. I know Girly has some jointy pain thing too, she takes lots of horrid smelly meds for hers, and then she tries to force horrid smelly meds on me! But I suppose at least she gets enough DLA to keep the flat warm enough that she isn’t crying all the time like she used to.  And I have another need met.

But I is a cat, and if I don’t get my needs met I can just pop round to the RSPCA and someone somewhere will look after me. Oddly the Girly seems to have to keep asking, well begging, for help to get her needs met. It appears that there is no RSPCA for humans – like WTF?

Anyhow, its seems that I managed to convince this Esther woman that Girly needs financial assistance for loads of stupid additional needs she has, as this Esther lady said Girly would be OK. Which means I will be OK and can now carry on working on my career.

I fancy moving into children tv – anyone know how this sexy puss can get into it? Answers should be sellotaped to a tin of tuna (in spring water only – gotta watch the kidneys!).

Luv to you all,

Your heroine, BendyCat

(As told to, and translated by, @Hossylass)



Easy News - No Ramps Here!

1/25/2013 09:28:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

On Wednesday we went to the House of Commons for the launch of 'Easy News' published by United Response and hosted by Eleanor Laing MP. It was very positive to see representatives from all three main parties in attendance, including both the Minister and Shadow Minister for Disabled People.

Amusingly in contrast to all the claims of access being everywhere there was no ramp provided for the speaker's podium and when asked about one Commons staff seemed to think there wasn't one available. So instead we had a podium and a speaker's sit on table!

There's an article here about the idea behind Easy News and a great interview with Nick and John, two of the consultant's who worked on Easy News

They say, the past is another country, they do things differently there. The implication being that we are somehow better now than then, better here than elsewhere. But are we? 
Once upon a time all people lived in small communities, with disabled people at their hearts. Communities that through the arrogance of time, we look back upon and consider less civilised than ourselves. But were they? Or have we just misunderstood the message in the adage? Skeletal remains teach us that tens of thousands of years ago people with severe disabilities were cared for, loved and if necessary, the entire tribe would adapt to the pace of their disabled member, fully understanding what we today seem to have forgotten – that any society is only as strong as its most vulnerable member.
In another past we lived in villages, accountable to a Lord and Master. Disabled people no longer cherished, but barely tolerated.  A different past again tells us that disabled people were considered lucky by leaders, and kept as fools at court. In another, disabled people were unlucky, locked away so as not to contaminate the general population. A closer past tells us how disabled people were demeaned and dehumanised, labelled as financial burdens worth nothing more than an opportunity for those in power to learn the skills of mass extermination.
There is fiction in the space between these pasts, these countries, but also truths of change. The biggest of these truths for all people was the invention of printing, the benefit of mass literacy and freedom to disseminate information. Without the power to access and produce their own information, people without sufficient riches to own land and later women would never have won the battle to gain their right to vote.
Whilst the information revolution effected lasting political and social change for most people, disabled people were excluded from society and refused the freedoms gained by others. Only in the much more recent past were disabled people able to begin our own, long march towards freedom.
The contemporary revolution is once again based upon information and a battle to balance the freedom of citizens to educate and inform against the controls imposed upon people by their governments. Here, the now is many countries, and they all do things differently there.
For some disabled people technology breaks down barriers and provides us with the freedoms to participate in politics, policy and democracy. We can educate ourselves by circumventing a physically inaccessible world to enter one based within the virtual. We can write things down, articulate our own truths and counter the challenge from the powerful that perhaps we’re just telling stories.
The abuse of power is intertwined in the history of disabled people - modern Britain considers herself far more developed than the peoples of the past, the peoples of countries far from here. But contemporary Britain continues to treat her most vulnerable citizens with a callous disregard – imprisoning those convicted of no crime in places paid to care, but that care is just a cover for the facilitation of torture. The bill for that torture is footed by us all, and equally the responsibility to prevent it, to demonstrate we are better, more human than that lies with us all.
Without the freedom to record the stories of those locked away, the platform to pass on these shameful truths of how our society disregards those it perceives as lacking contributory worth progress can never be made. Those without power can be blamed, targeted, made less human by those who sip from the cup of success, whilst those with power are not held accountable for the consequences of their own words.
Today we are gathered in the heart of power, the seat of democracy to celebrate how far disabled people have come, and attempt to speed up the pace of travel to full equality. The right to vote is insufficient on its own, without the provision of non-partisan news and information in a format everyone can understand, voting remains a token gesture based upon empty words.
As disabled people we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with fatigue cannot gain access to the transport, to the workplaces, to the leisure spaces of our cities. But as humans, as people, we can never be satisfied until we all have, not just the right to participate, but the appropriate and individual tools to enable us to do so.
Then, perhaps one day, future people will look back upon our past and know that this was when we learnt to do things differently. When we began to understand that the right to do something would never be enough without the communally provided support to do so.


#esaSOS - guest blog by @suey2y

1/17/2013 12:41:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

Guest blog by Sue Marsh - originally posted here


On 28 January 2013 the UK government is due to make a set of changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA is the flawed ‘fitness to work’ test which assesses whether sick and disabled people can get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): a benefit designed to help and support very unwell or profoundly disabled people into work.

Although these changes have been advertised as small ‘amendments’, they will in fact have ahuge impact on the way people’s illnesses and disabilities are assessed. Many vulnerable people’s needs will suddenly be able to be overlooked or ignored, meaning they could end up losing the support they desperately need to manage their conditions.

Hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people across Britain need your help to fight these changes!


In the fitness to work test, your needs are assessed by a ‘healthcare professional’ employed by the French private company ATOS. This assessor doesn’t just need to look at your current difficulties. For example, they can also imagine how using an aid (e.g. a wheelchair) might improve your ability to work and make a judgement based on that – without even asking your opinion!
However, soon this “imaginary test” will be able to be used for many more aids (including guide dogs and false limbs!). This means that soon thousands more people could be judged as fit to work, without being consulted, on the basis of an “imaginary” aid they don’t own or may not be able to use!

It gets worse. Even if returning to work may clearly put you at risk, these changes will mean you can still lose your disability benefit – as long as the assessor believes that trying a new therapy or treatment might reduce that risk. There’s no need for evidence that the treatment will help: you will lose support either way, making it much harder to manage if the treatment doesn’t work as hoped – let alone if it ends up making things worse.

>>> Imagine Bert, who suffers from severe schizophrenia, but is found fit to work and made to take behavioural therapy in the hope of improving his condition. He will lose his disability benefit, without the assessor having to look at several vital questions: how hard it would be for Bert to contact a psychiatrist? How long would an NHS appointment take to organize? Are there private options in his area – and could he afford them if so? What if the therapy doesn’t work, or takes a long time to adjust to? <<<

"how individuals are assessed to receive ESA could give rise to large numbers of legal claims being made against them. These changes immediately puts the government at risk of breaching article 9 of the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights, which preserves an individual’s right to ‘thought, conscience and religion’. The new rules provide for an individual to be refused ESA if they do not take any medication or accept an aid which Doctors believe could aid their condition. Essentially, they can impose a financial penalty on individuals who refuse treatment on religious. Given the very recent decision involving the Christian, Nadia Eweida and the court upholding her right to wear a cross – the government is on very rocky ground with these changes.” Chris Fry, Solicitor and Managing Partner at Unity Lawwww.unity-law.co.uk"

If the government’s rule changes go through, people like Bert who are desperate to work will find it nearly impossible to get an accurate assessment, affecting the quality of their support and actively preventing their efforts to get back into work.


The government is also trying to change the way people’s conditions are assessed by dividing health problems into two separate boxes: ‘physical’ and ‘mental’. When looking at what tasks people can do, only the ‘physical half’ of the test will apply to those with physical disabilities. The same goes for the effects of treatment: for e.g., if you’re taking mental health medication, only mental health side-effects will be looked at.

This completely fails to understand the way that many disabilities and illnesses can lead to both physical and mental effects. This is also the case for many common treatments: such as those for schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

>>> Think of Emily, who suffers severe, chronic pain because of nerve damage to her leg. Emily is among the 49% of chronic pain sufferers who also suffer depression as a result of continuous pain. An assessor may see Emily as able to do some work as long as she takes strong painkillers for the rest of her life, meaning she could pass the ‘fitness’ test. Yet the painkillers may not deal with the depression caused by her condition. Painkillers have also often been shown to affect people’s wakefulness and decision-making. So taking the medication may affect Emily’s ability to do a job in a completely new way – yet because these new problems are cognitive, they would not need to be looked at by the assessor when making their decision! <<<

Pretending the effects of illnesses and disabilities can be separated in this way goes against all medical practice. Going even further, and using this method to ignore sick and disabled people’s needs, is at best hopeless policy, and at worst deliberate cruelty. We cannot let the government treat some of the most vulnerable people in British society in this way.


The main way you can help is by spreading the message about these changes to ESA. The government have tried to sneak them under the radar – the last thing they will want is people talking about them! 

Here are some great ways you can raise awareness:

1) Email your MP (you can search by name or constituency at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/);
2) Share this blog post on twitter (using the hashtag #esaSOS), Facebook and other social media; CLICK ON THE BUTTONS BELOW THIS POST TO SHARE ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
3) Email your friends and family a link to this post – or simply talk to them about it!

Again, the main way we can get the government to reconsider is by getting people to talk about the injustice of these changes. So please spread the word as far and wide as you can!

Thank you so much for reading this far. Now let’s make sure these unwanted, damaging benefit changes never see the light of day!

If you want to do more, please sign #WOWpetition and call on the government to think again. 
Sign here http://wowpetition.com - and ask all of your friends to sign too!



Reliably, Repeatedly, Safely, Timely Manner... #pipemergency

1/15/2013 08:42:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

"The one hope sick and disabled people had for PIP was the promise that the phrase "reliably, repeatedly, safely, and in a timely manner" would be included in the regulations; this would mean that each time an assessor considered an activity descriptor they would be legally obliged to view it through this prism: can the individual perform activities reliably, can they do this repeatedly, can they do it safely and can they do it within a timely manner? (e.g. within less than twice the amount of time the activity would take an average, non disabled adult).
This might seem like semantics but when applied to a disabled person’s life it is the structure that holds the frank reporting of symptoms in place. With "reliably, repeatedly, safely, timely manner" I will be encouraged to explain that I can walk a bit, but that ability to walk varies hugely. It is never reliable, requires significant medication to reduce the pain from dislocations enough to do at all, can’t be repeated in any manner that would mean I had practical mobility and is unsafe as I constantly dislocate and often fall thus relying on help from strangers to pick me up and is so slow that elderly people with walking sticks overtake me."


New report from We Are Spartacus - Emergency Stop #pipemergency

1/14/2013 08:15:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

originally published here

On the day we publish Emergency Stop, a new report analysing the economic and social impact of the Personal Independence Payment regulations, we call on the Government to ‘go back to the drawing board’ on proposals to replace disability living allowance (DLA), after it buried last-minute changes to criteria which will see thousands more disabled people with mobility difficulties lose out than expected. 
The unexpected changes, slipped out following a Ministerial statement last month (13 December 2012), mean the criteria for the enhanced mobility rate of the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP), has tightened. The qualification has changed from being able to walk 50 metres to being able to walk 20 metres.
This not only condemns thousands more disabled people to the worry of losing out under the new benefit and the isolation this will bring; it also highlights the lie that the Government’s reforms are targeted to support those in need.
Government protestations about consultation are a nonsense if it takes no notice of what disabled people and their organisations say. Of the 173 consultation responses from organisations on the new PIP, only one suggested the qualifying distance for those who have the most difficulty getting around should perhaps be changed.
And why has there been no parliamentary debate on such a significant policy change? Is it because government has already decided this is about saving money rather than meeting need?
We’re also calling on the Government to incorporate people’s ability to undertake tasks ‘reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely manner’ into the regulations for PIP, which will ensure both assessments and appeal hearings consistently take account of factors such as pain, fatigue, breathlessness and other symptoms generated by undertaking tasks.
The ‘Emergency Stop’ report analyses figures supplied by the DWP and Motability, the organisation that supplies lease cars and specialist converted vehicles to disabled people claiming the higher mobility rate of Disability Living Allowance.
The analysis estimates that, under PIP, 428,000 fewer working age disabled people will qualify for the higher PIP rate (which allows access to the Motability scheme) by 2018. This could lead to 160,000 fewer Motability cars on the road.
Oxford Economics’ report ‘Economic and social impact of the Motability Car Scheme’ (2010) identified the Motability scheme’s contribution to the economy through car sales, employment generation and tax receipts. The new report shows that welfare reform plans will lead to a domino effect including the loss of:
  • 5,692 jobs (from 21,080 jobs to 15,388 jobs in Motability-related industries)
  • £544 million contribution to GDP (from around £2 billion to £1.45 billion)
  • £126 million in tax receipts
It also highlights that the cost to the public purse of enabling disabled people to get to medical appointments could alone amount to about £8 million.
It’s not just disabled people who will lose out under the Government’s welfare reform plans. Changing from DLA to PIP means fewer people qualifying for Motability cars to the tune of about 50,000 fewer vehicles a year. Less demand means fewer jobs in the motor industry, a lower contribution to GDP and the exchequer, and a knock on effect on the second hand market, which also contributes to the economy.
In the meantime, disabled people will be less independent, less likely to be able to get or keep a job, more likely to give up self-employment and less able to care for their children or support other family members.