Hello! Did I just send you this link? Are you trying to have an
argument a “discussion of our opinions” on Twitter?
Then this post is for you, my friends!
I don’t have
arguments “discussions of opinions” on Twitter. This is why:
- You can’t make a point in 140 characters. So I’m not about to try.
- You probably have an inaccurate view of the world, such as “all poor people are scroungers” or “disabled people should just try harder” or “men have it hard too!” or similar.
- I do not have the time or energy to explain any of the following to you over Twitter:
- Feminist theory
- The social housing allocation system
- The welfare benefit system
- Various models of disability.
- It is not my job to educate you on any of the above. If you want to know about it you can go out and find out about it, just like I had to.* In fact, there’s some info about that stuff here on this very blog!
- In order to explain why your view is incorrect would require way more than 140 characters and requires you do stuff like read things. Which you either a) can’t be bothered to do or b) think you’re correct about anyway.
- You feel your opinion overrides my real life experience and knowledge. It doesn’t, it never will. I know you find that hard to accept, but you’ll get there.
- But, I’m 99.9% sure that you have no interest in doing any of the above because all you want to do is tell me how poor people are scroungers/women are all man-hating feminazis/welfare benefits are ruining this country or similar. In which case I’ll probably just laugh at you for a while until I get bored and go off to find something more entertaining to do.
*this does not include any of the following sources: The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Express, http://www.poorpeoplearescroungers.com, your mate who knows this bloke whose next-door neighbour got a house for free and she gets £30,000 a year and doesn’t work, Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Kyle
This morning I woke up, lay in bed for a little while on my heat pad in an attempt to warm up, then got out of bed and went to make breakfast. I ate my porridge in front of my computer as I often do, and took to Twitter complaining that as it was raining I had lots of pain (also as I often do!) I ate my breakfast and took my medication, which included Naproxen and Tramadol. I complained on Twitter a little more and empathised with others also experiencing a chronic pain flare up in this rainy weather.
My best awake time is in the morning. So I began doing some work as I knew after lunch my brain would turn to mush and I’d probably have to go to bed for a while. My husband went to empty the postbox and lo and behold I had a brown envelope.
My PIP reconsideration hasn’t been successful, I’m going to have to go to appeal.
I don’t even have the energy to feel massively angry about it. I’m just tired of it. More paper, more assessments, more trying to prove that I am actually ill and I don’t sit around for most of the day doing very little because it’s fun (it’s not fun). What can we do other than go “righto then” and get on with it. Anything else requires too much energy and I don’t have much of that right now.
So. Righto then. On we go.
On September 21st 2015 I had a letter telling me my Personal Independence Payments had been stopped after my re-assessment. On 12th October, I put in a written request for mandatory reconsideration of my claim.
I called the DWP last week, a month after I’d sent the letter. They found it on their system, and the person I spoke to on the phone told me they’d basically forgotten about it. It had been scanned and entered, and then left.
Today I called again. The decision still hasn’t been made. This time I was told it could take up to nine weeks for a decision. Which is halfway through December. Just shy of three months after my PIP was stopped.
In this time, surprisingly, I have not magically become better. I have not adapted to life without PIP because, funnily enough, I kinda need it. My extra financial requirements have not disappeared. But now I don’t have the cash to meet them.
My PIP paid for my weekly gentle yoga classes that helped me move and got me out of the house. It paid for a bus, it paid for me to park the car. It paid for me to use the local Shopmobility services when I went out. As a result of me losing my PIP our ESA payments also went down. This means I now cannot afford the yoga class, or transport, or much of anything really for the moment. Losing my PIP – albeit only temporarily, I hope – has meant I’ve lost a lot of my independence. I cannot afford to get out the house. I cannot afford to go to places and meet people. This is how people become isolated – it takes sick and disabled people more energy than most to get out the house in the first place. If they’re constantly worrying about if they can afford to, that’s not going to help.
I’ll be alright – I know how to fight this and if it goes further and I have to appeal, well, I can do that. But it’s not fun, and it’s not easy, and I’m ill and I’m tired. How am I going to make myself “work ready” if I have to spend all my very limited energy fighting for the basic stuff I need to be able to live my life? Removing essential money from sick and disabled people doesn’t make them more likely to succeed, it won’t make them more motivated to go out and work. In fact, it is doing just the opposite. We’re all very tired of fighting.
It’s a well-known piece of trivia that Ian Duncan Smith does not like disabled people. He actively puts forward policies that ruin lives – the Bedroom Tax, the “fit for work” tests to name but a couple. However he’s now decided to come out and be completely truthful about how he feels about sick and disabled people.
He feels they deserve to live in poverty.
Disabled people should have to work their way out poverty and not simply be taken out of it by state financial assistance, Iain Duncan Smith has said.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said it was not the role of government to pay the disabled enough to stop them being poor and that the correct way to escape poverty was by working.
This is a HUGE attack on disabled people. This is the Work and Pensions Secretary saying “you deserve this”. Saying “you are lesser than everyone else because you cannot work”.
“We won’t lift you out of poverty by simply transferring taxpayers’ money to you. With our help, you’ll work your way out of poverty.”
This is IDS creating a “them and us” situation. “We” are the taxpayers, “we” are the hard workers, “we” are worthwhile, productive people. “You” live off our dime, and “you” are getting handouts from our pockets. “You” need to work harder, because the reason you’re in the situation you are is because of your own personal failing.
Showing an enormous ignorance about disability, IDS is suggesting that disabled people don’t work because they are not encouraged to, because they are not inspired to, because “…when the system makes doctors ask a simplistic question: are you too sick to work at all? If the answer is yes, they’re signed off work – perhaps for ever.”
(IDS has clearly never tried to sign off sick…)
These statements are ignorant at best and dangerously damaging at worse. He the person who is in charge of ensuring disabled people are able to live by providing enough for us to do so, he is the one holding the purse strings. Disabled people who ARE able to work need so much more help and support – they need MORE money. And those who cannot? Should not live in poverty just because they are in a situation that they have absolutely no control over.
It’s strange, because obviously I have a lot of things to say about this. I have to go for another assessment after having been on PIP for just a year which really wasn’t expected, but they were a hell of a lot faster this time than last I’ll give them that. I’m going into this one having already had one assessment and so I know a bit more about how the process works, but I feel like I can’t talk about much of that at the moment. Because the internet has ears. And the paranoia of ill and disabled people is high. And I’m worried that my concerns about my assessment will be taken the wrong way. So instead, I thought I’d talk about something else.
I got ill almost two years ago now. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time. When I look back at how I was before I got ill, the work I did, the activities I did, how busy I was, it definitely seems like another life. And the problem with that is, the way I am now has become normalised in my mind. And so I forget that I still do things differently in order to accommodate my condition because I’m now not aware that I do them.
I don’t go into town because I know it’ll make me tired and I have things to do at home. I have to plan my showers days in advance sometimes, to make sure I’m actually, y’know, clean but to make sure I have time to rest afterwards. I get tired in the afternoons. I get pain and fatigue when it rains. I take strong painkillers, I don’t clean my own house, and just today I vetoed a trip to the supermarket at the end of the road because I felt in too much pain (even though I would’ve driven there rather than walked).
But that’s now my “normal”. I do all these things without thinking about it because it’s habit. Which worries me that I might miss them when I’m talking to the ATOS person.
Last time I said it felt like an exam. So I guess it’s time to start revision.
I spent more than half of 2014 blogging about the ongoing saga of my PIP application. I first applied in January and through a complicated form, a poorly-recorded assessment and nearly nine months of waiting I finally ended up getting a disibility benefit.
Twelve months later and it’s time to go through it all over again.
Yes I have the photocopies of the last form. Yes I still have the Word file with all my written answers in, and copies of my letters. Yes I know they hopefully won’t ask me in for another assessment.
But still. Another few months of wondering how long it’ll take and if I’ll actually be re-awarded.
I’m still exhausted from the last time.
We’re two months in to a Tory government, and the gloves are coming off. There’s a budget in less than a week and I can’t decide if the news stories that have appeared over the last couple of days are to gently ease us in to the horror, or if they’re cleverly designed to turn the country on those in poverty so when the budget comes they can say “Yeah, those workless, they’re the cause of all this country’s problems!”.
I plan to write a more detailed post for budget day. But this part couldn’t wait.
Let’s look at some of the news stories from the past few days:
- The Independent Living Fund (ILF) has been scrapped, leaving many disabled people reliant on local councils that have no funds to provide care for them.
- Jeremy Hunt has announced that prescriptions will now have the actual cost written on them along with “Funded by the UK taxpayer” in what seems to be an attempt to shame chronically ill people into no longer being ill.
- A leaked DWP memo seems to suggest that the government want to scrap the Work Related Activity (WRA) group of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Let’s have a quote from that article, presented without further comment:
Charlie Pickles from Reform, a think tank focusing on public service delivery that was co-founded by Conservative MP Nick Herbert, said the current system encourages people to stay on the benefit rather than finding work.
- The government seeks to re-write the criteria for child poverty, concentrating on the amount of worklessness and educational attainment in the household rather than material poverty – which fails to take into account that a lot of people are in work and still in poverty.
This has been happening for years. The government has been scapegoating people in poverty and saying “it’s your fault the country has no money”. But the stories are coming thick and fast, the cuts are becoming more brutal and next week’s budget is going to hurt. A lot.