Tag Archives: benefits

Can anyone recommend an occupational therapist, particularly any who are specialists in medico-legal/case management areas?

I am preparing for a PIP tribunal appeal, and need to have a legal defence prepared for some absurd possibilities. I am waiting for my appeal tribunal to contest a PIP benefit decision, waiting since February. As part of the decision I am appealing, they downgraded my mobility component which meant I was no longer eligible for a vehicle from  the Motability scheme. As part of my discussions with my appeals advisor, she told me about cases where people had lost their appeal to regain the ‘enhanced mobility’ component BECAUSE they could drive a car. (To be brief incase you need clarity, Enhanced rates mean that one cannot walk over 20 meters repeatedly, reliably, with in a reasonable time, and safely.)  The reasoning, I’m told, that some tribunal judges decide this is because they say it takes a reasonable amount of physical competence to drive a car. I have been told that one person was told that as they were able to operate the pedals of a car, she was able to walk more than 20 meters. All of this seems to me to be utterly absurd. In my case, the reason for being rejected by assessment was that “he lives alone and isn’t housebound as he goes out in the car regularly,” and on the daily living component that my grip strength was bought in to question [not trying hard enough / suboptimal effort] because “he drives a manual car.” (Notice it was the gear changing and not the steering.)  I was incredulous. So my hope is that somehow –  with the help of an occupational therapist I can once and for all provide evidence to the tribunal that driving a car is not physically synonymous with being able to walk over 20 meters (repeatedly, reliably, with in a reasonable time, and safely…), that driving modern cars requires very little physical exertion (I argued that I could change gears with my little finger it was so light, to no avail) – I can put an end to this utter nonsense for myself and everyone else in a similar situation.

Basic standard of living vs. Long-term Incapacity Benefit

Do you earn enough for a basic standard of living?

The Minimum Income Standard for the UK shows how much money people need, so that they can buy things that members of the public think that everyone in the UK should be able to afford. Take the test at the link: http://www.minimumincome.org.uk/

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 08.28.42Now compare ‘minimum income standard’ with what someone on long term sickness/disability benefit actually gets. The hypothetical person has no realistic prospect of returning to work in the near future, yet their compensated income isn’t even subsistence income.

But whilst the public may think that someone on a wage should be able to afford these things, you may not. It could be said that they can do without alcohol and they don’t need to spend money on social activities because there are things that can be done for free. Someone can quite rightly claim that clothing isn’t something that has to be purchased every month either, especially if you’re careful with your clothes.

It is often mis represented that the case for higher benefits (in this context) is wanting parity with an earning standard of living. This was an exercise in demonstrating the current wide disparity by showing that £115 per week is the gap at two extremes (within the context). However the figures proposed at minimum working/earning standard of living are not wild or fanciful. The reality for all disabled and long term sickness benefit recipients is that the benefits are barely meeting their needs, let alone even partially their desires.

I think that the debate should be where between the two extremes should the income be set. So what is appropriate substance levels, bearing in mind that the disabled person has no fair reason to be excluded from normal participation in society? Also bearing in mind the difference between an Able bodied job seeker, vs what we are talking about: incapacitated through sickness/health or disability.

For the job seeker, a temporary exclusion from normal participation is acceptable due to the temporary nature of unemployment relative to employment, and the motivation that exists there in; however the long term sick/disabled faces exclusion from participation in cultural activities, or from affording enough variety in food and social activities, and the motivation factor is redundant in this respect.

The disabled or long term incapacitated person will also have generally higher costs of living associated with their incapacity. There also comes a point where all clothes eventually do fall apart, no matter how careful one is, or become tatty/ragged, yet the less than substance existence provides not much leeway for replacement of items clothing or household that break or wear down.

For international comparison, the income for disabled/sickness benefit in UK is 1/4 of that in Canada, and 1/2 of the European average.

And final, all social security will be uprated at 1% for next three years. As the benefits barely cover cost of all essentials, this means a very real drop in income as inflation increases.  Compared to someone on median wage of £21k, someone on the income provided here has currently £96pw. In fixed cash terms, after three years that will be equivalent to £66pw.

The point being: there is very little “fat” left to cut. Literally in some cases!

DWP retrospective law change following court defeat

From JonnyVoid’s Blog:

In a shocking abuse of state power – which could have a chilling impact on the independence of the courts – Iain Duncan Smith is attempting to reverse the impact of a recent Appeal Court judgement by re-writing history.

In the recent workfare case brought by Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson, the DWP were found to have unlawfully sanctioned thousands of benefit claims[1].  The court ruled that the legislation upon which forced unpaid work was based was not legal and the information given to claimants did not fully inform them of what would happen it they failed to attend workfare.  Which was that benefits could be stopped, for up to six months.

In other words, the DWP’s bodged information meant many claimants lost significant sums of money through no fault of their own.  The Court of Appeal  ruling meant that unemployed people who had benefit claims stopped or reduced illegally by the DWP could claim that money back.

Or at least it did mean that.  Now the DWP is basically saying tough shit, we’re keeping your money.

In its arguments to justify withholding social security people are due – an average of about £500 per person, £130 million pounds in total – the DWP has stated that:

“If the Department cannot make these retrospective changes, then further reductions in benefits might be required in order to find the money to repay the sanctions”

In short, if the government is made to obey the high court’s ruling, it will inflict collective punishment on those who can least afford it by finding £130 million pounds more in new cuts from the welfare budget.

In response, this is my latest email to my MP:

I am disturbed to hear that the Secretary of State DWP is proposing legislation in response to the Work Programme court ruling that is retrospective in its attempt to avoid breaking the law for which it may have to compensate those sanctioned unlawfully.

It appears that the DWP have decided they are no longer accountable to the laws of the land. What will be the point of taking the Government to court if they can simply change the law on a whim to avoid facing any legal consequences retrospectively? It makes a mockery of our judicial system and democratic accountability.

I am further dismayed by reports the Liam Byrne seems to be backing this retrograde and cynical move. According to the Guardian[2], Labour are looking set support the government in legislating to avoid paying back money ruled legally due to claimants who have had benefits sanctioned.

I find this possibility of this offensive with the disregard to the judicial system that the Government feel they are above law and I do not want you to vote for this undemocratic precedent.

[1] http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/news_details.php?id=298

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/15/dwp-law-change-jobseekers-poundland

Slashing spending and cutting benefits inhuman, David Cameron

Source of quote:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/apr/18/davidcameron.politicalcolumnistsThanks Aaron JamesUnfortunately this isn’t todays news story. David Cameron said this back in 2002 in an article piece for the Guardian news paper.

See for yourself:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/apr/18/davidcameron.politicalcolumnists

After the recession of 1989 to 1992 we had to raise taxes because the budget deficit reached dangerous proportions. The alternative of slashing spending and cutting benefits would have been inhuman.

As the image says, he is damned by is own words.

Also see:

  1. The Deficit Myth  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/
  2. Government Debt and Deficits in Charts

  3. Counter the austerity myths
  4. Debt ratios http://notthetreasuryview.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/debating-debt-ratios-with-michael.html from , Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Previously, Chief Economist at the UK Cabinet Office. Regular commentator on UK macro and microeconomic policy. (The exchange he mentions in his blog entry here is pretty damning for the politician involved and shows the dirty tactics they are employing to validate their aims to remove the state.)

How I’m paying the price for this Tory-led Government’s failure

I suffer with CFS/ME, fibromyalgia and depression. My only income is fortnightly Income Support / Incapacity Benefit at £102 per week. Since the Coalition have taken government, I have already seen my housing benefit slashed and have to top it up by just over £25 a week and this year alone I have seen my gas and electric bill rise by nearly 10%. My money comes in and it goes straight out again on rent, bills and food. I have nothing left over. To the point that friends and family sometimes send me a little money, just so that I can have some variety and get out and about.

So I was already apprehensive by the morning of the Autumn Statement as there was wide spread talk about possible cuts to benefits, with the rhetoric already in full swing on the TV and radio. However, that day I was in good spirit and my health was managing well. I took a seat in my local coffee shop and listened to the Chancellor deliver his statement on the radio.

I smiled and scoffed wryly at the Chancellor’s tractor factory style regurgitating of numbers and figures, whilst he supposed that because of ‘this’, it showed ‘that’. The usual game, I thought. But then, amid a strange convolution of unrelated reasons and warped logic, came the announcement about benefits: from next year they would only rise 1% per year for three years.

I burst in to tears right there in the coffee shop. I was stunned. It felt like my whole world had been snatched from beneath me. I could hardly speak or breathe. I cut the radio off and I felt such a sinking feeling of sadness; depression hit me physically and mentally.

Many dressed it up as “an effective freeze,” saying, “Income would still be going up…” I’m not stupid; I know full well that if inflation rises faster than your income, it is a real cut to one’s spending power. I estimated that in three years time, with food and fuel inflation as they are, this would result in an effective cut of around a quarter to my income.

The real question is: how will I manage when I am already struggling to manage right now?

To compare wage increases with benefits increases is frankly ludicrous. I cannot make any more savings within my budget. There is no cushion, no buffer, and no give. The only savings left will affect my health, well-being and mental state, when I am already struggling with all of those anyway.

The Chancellor is completely wrong when he says disabled people are protected. They are struggling and they will see cuts to large parts of their income regardless. But worse than that, he has decided that Employment Support and Incapacity are not now disability benefits with the stroke of a pen and a flick of the wrist.

I feel quite strongly now that the current government do not care about society and that they care even less for the poorest and most vulnerable. If they had a social conscious, or any shred of empathy, they could not even for one minute contemplate inflicting this Spector of abject poverty on people like myself.