Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Reality of Government Disability Cuts - A Guest Post

Silhouetted Lady, from BehindA note from me: I don't claim ESA. I would probably qualify, in real terms, if I applied, but the degradation and stress I have seen other people go through has left me too nervous to even try. What if they 'catch me out' and I get into trouble? The forms are very clear, if you give 'false information', you can be prosecuted. As with all disabilities and health problems, you can have the occasional good day, and I want to make the most of those, not be looking over my shoulder, in case I look too well. What if I 'fail' the extensive and humiliating tests? How would I cope with being told I'm a fake? I tell people I don't claim, because I want to work, which is true. I would rather be achieving something, making a difference, rather than being stuck at home by myself all the time. 

Principles don't pay the bills though, and it is not the only reason I haven't ever claimed. It's because having to adapt and adjust your life so that people don't see the extent of your issues is hard enough without being 'tested' to see if you really do have the problems you deal with every day and I just can't cope with that as well. All this means, I didn't feel I was the best person to react to the latest cuts the Government have forced through parliament, but it's an important issue. So, I would like to hand over to my good friend, who I will call Mavis. Over to you... 

Brown Envelope Anxiety

I can't think about the subject of Disability Benefits, or brown envelopes, without feeling faint and sick. Then I start shaking violently and sweat. That's what it does to me, I think it's become known as brown envelope anxiety. They are killing us all off, one by one. And they don't care. People often say they don't know what they are doing, but they do. They absolutely DO know. What they don't know, is what it's like to struggle, to fight your own hunger making sure your child has the last scraps so they don't go hungry. They may have had a bit of a rumble in their tummies, but they've been able to stop that hunger by paying with their bottomless accounts. 

I digress...

A lot of disabled people have come by their disabilities by accident, or acquired illness. Obviously some are born with it or develop it over time. Either way, no one can get a benefit for disability without going through (enduring/suffering) a humiliating and degrading test. So when people say most disabled people are faking it, I hand on heart say; I hope they never become disabled in any way, as they too will be labelled a fake, a liar and a cheat. No-one whatsoever in receipt of a disability benefit in the UK today is faking it, after the degrading assessments we are forced to undergo. Repeated tests, designed to catch you out even when you're telling the truth. People are stripped of much needed benefits to enable them to live a life most people without problems people take for granted. 

What £30 Means

By removing £30 a week from people with disabilities on ESA in the WRAG group (Work Related Activity Group), bringing it down to JSA level, is taking away dignity. It's taking away the last shreds of enablement. The extra £30 was for disabled people who may be capable of working, to use for extra expenses a disabled person encounters, such as having to get a taxi or replacing disability aids and equipment, or having to eat a certain diet, or paying for the kinds of medical things you need you can't get on prescription. It's an assault, it's a cleansing and I am ashamed of my country. I am frightened. 

I Won't Go Quietly

I'm sure they will come for me next, and I won't go quietly. They (this government, and it's unjust cruelty) have made me consider doing terrible things to myself. They caused my second breakdown. I say those words and the following words with sincere gravity, when they make those cuts, they are not just to a budget, they are to the very soul of my being. They are plunging the knife and twisting it into my heart, my brain, my family. They are repeatedly stabbing it into my body. That's how it feels. And when they come for me which they will, and take away anything else, which they will, I won't be able to afford to live. SO the only logical choice will be to die, and that's what they want, although they won't admit it. I'm already paying bedroom tax - Spare Bedroom Subsidy for the detractors - and soon I am to pay 20% council tax. We will be in negative income. My only crime was to have a severe breakdown 13 years ago which has left me with severe mental health problems, and I have a variety bag of joint issues. 

It's Only a Matter of Time

I am thankful I am in the Support Group of ESA, but we're all being reassessed for that soon too and of course there's the transition from DLA to PIP coming. It doesn't matter I've been awarded indefinite DLA, and had 3 assessments in one year for it due to them messing it up - I'll tell you that another day - infinite awards are being scrapped and we will endure more frequent assessments. They don't just swap you over to PIP, you have to be retested and EVERYONE is being turned down either flat, with nothing, or only on the lowest award possible. And they're going to charge you for appealing, with no income for the duration of the appeal which can take several months. You can apply for other benefits during the appeal, but that would make you available for work as you'd only qualify for JSA. Sneaky, eh? 

Disability is Not a Lifestyle Choice

I didn't ask to become disabled, I don't want this. I've always worked or volunteered. I'm too scared to leave my house. (I can't go out alone anyway) but we've been followed, photographed and filmed by the government in a rather bizarre and failed attempt to catch me out. Why didn't they catch me out? Because I'm genuinely disabled, and they were acting on malicious information, given by a so called friend who has no idea I know what she's done. It's horrific. I am too scared to attempt to do what I know I could do, to  never need to be on benefit. I have to have help in almost everything I do, but I have a bright and fast mind. I want to write, and blog, but I know I'm being watched all the time, being judged by people who have not got the first tiny idea about my life. They don't see me trying not to cry in front of my daughter. They don't see me locked up unable to move for an hour in the morning. They don't see my husband putting my socks, shoes and underwear on me, or when he has to help me up or stop me falling. They see none of that. I stammer, I slur and generally sound drunk. I have occasional good speaking days, but mostly it's just a slur and I forget what I'm saying. I need help to type and write. Sometimes auto text helps, sometimes I can dictate, but when it can't understand me, my husband types. He's getting better at it. *smile*

I have no privacy, I have no dignity.

Parting Words

My parting words are, Don't lose your job. Don't become ill, don't have a life changing accident, or you too, will become benefit scum, unfit, and incompatible with the Tory Britain ideal of life. 

About Mavis

Mavis is the most amazing mum. The kindest, most understanding and thoughtful person you could meet. But she suffers every single day. I watch her heart break when she can't do the simple things with her daughter that other mums take for granted and my heart breaks for her, so I want to try to give her a voice, because it matters. It matters that people like her are listened to and respected. It may return some of the dignity that the Government seems to be intent on removing bit by bit. Please support Mavis and others like her, by sharing this post and helping people hear her voice. It would mean the world to her to know that someone is listening. 


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