Workshy Scrounger

Tag: sanctions

Charges for benefit appeals

Department of Work and Pensions, clearly worried about high numbers of people winning appeals against them, is thinking about introducing charges for lodging an appeal with social security tribunals.

Guardian reports that after employment tribunals started charging up to £250 per case, the number of appeals was halved. I am sure that if benefit recipients were to pay to appeal, the number of appeals would be close to zero. It would allow the DWP to boast about the system working really well  – just look at the numbers – no appeals were lodged whatsoever. Everybody is happy. We are doing well. We are fixing Britain.

DWP’s perfect scheme to do away with WRAG

Being disabled, I thought that the constant cycle of assessment, benefit reduction, appeal and benefit reinstatement was bad enough. However, DWP came up with another great idea that will help us get back into workplace:

People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with doctors, occupational health nurses and therapists to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefit.

The pilot scheme, which will run between November 2013 and August 2016, looks like a desperate attempt to cover up the failure of the back to work schemes. The details are vague but it seems that it’s just another way of implementing sanctions. As many people’s conditions are intermittent, I am sure that will lead to many a missed appointment and the follow-up smear campaign in the papers: lazy benefit scroungers do not want to work.

I bet they will use the jumping to conclusions strategy that proved so fruitful during functional assessments. Having make-up and clean clothes on means you do not suffer from depression. Coming to the assessment on your own (because you have no support whatsoever) means you do not suffer from anxiety. Getting up quickly (because you are high on painkillers that come with so many warnings you shouldn’t even be responsible for tying your own shoelaces) means you never suffer any pain at all.

What could happen during such a meeting? There are no details, yet. I’m afraid they will turn into mini-medicals where you will have to explain thoroughly what you did and why not more. They might tell us we have entitlement issues, after all they know of other people with our condition who lead normal lives.

I can see them telling a claimant to do something small once a week (eg panic attacks – think about being in a busy shop and concentrate on your breathing) and then slowly increasing the pressure (stand outside the shop, go into the shop, move into the shop, become the shop) until they get the desired effect.

Claimant’s inability to carry out the instructions will result in sanctions. If they force themselves to do it at the cost of their health and well-being, they will subsequently be taken off ESA because they are no longer disabled.

Either way, that will save money (or so they think) and increase their popularity among the disempathetic fools who cannot imagine ever losing their job or their health or both. I very much doubt any of the initial 3000 people taking part in the pilot scheme will be still claiming benefits after the two years. Add to it some sneaky statistic-fiddling and IDS will have more miracles to his name than Our Lady of Lourdes.

I am Toryfying

I am being bashed on the void for saying out loud what majority of the society thinks. For trying to defend those on benefits who are doing all they can to manage on little money. Perhaps, I should shut up as alienating your readership might work for the Daily Mail but will probably send my readership plummeting. Here’s a sample comment (re people will struggle when monthly benefits and direct housing benefit payments will be introduced):

If we choose to see creating a similar (or a worse) situation for others as a ‘reasonable’ response to their ‘unacceptable behaviours’, in the same way ‘imposing a sanction’ has at some stage become acceptable to mainstream society, (justified as ‘cruel to be kind’ and ‘helping to motivate’), wouldn’t that be crossing the Rubicon? (albeit DWP are already on the other side).

Sanctions are there to punish in order to elicit acceptable behaviour. When you have a kid, you impose sanctions – clean up the room or no telly for you. You boss imposes sanctions – either you come in and do your job every day or I will fire you. They have always been morally acceptable. Otherwise it would be a free for all.

Let’s say I have coeliac disease. To be able to function and work, I cannot eat gluten – pizza, bread, pasta and loads of other “normal” food. I can eat the expensive gluten-free products but I don’t like them so instead I stuff myself with all the forbidden foodstuffs. Then I suffer the consequences and am unable to work. Over time, my health deteriorates making me more and more disabled and dependent on state help. Oh, I have also been diagnosed with food addiction. I am not going to change anything because what is the point – I have my house, my benefits and I am happy when I eat. It’s me who suffers the consequences of my actions. It’s my life, my health, my choice. Is that ok?

It doesn’t really matter what your answer is because the general public says it is not ok. They already think we are all like that. They voted the Tories in. They will vote them in again if nothing changes. What we are currently saying is that social tenants will not cope with rent money in their accounts. That many benefit claimants will not be able to function with monthly payments and will spend it all at once. That many are addicts. Many are not that great at organisational skills, budgeting, etc. We are giving our “enemies” arguments against us and practically doing IDS’s job for him.

If somebody says that the benefits are too low and then goes on to add that household management is too difficult a skill, then it sort of cancels the initial argument out. It’s like saying “I am a useless driver. Can I take your porshe on a spin?”. No. People might think that, perhaps, if you were better at it, you wouldn’t have the trouble you are experiencing. So many people think they could manage on £53 a week. They make many assumptions about our habits, most of them wrong. The stereotype of the smoking, drinking sky watcher comes to mind. They think we are like them and spend a fiver here and there to treat ourselves. They think we actually like the value food we buy. That looking for clothes in charity shops is such fun. They are even doing it themselves but what for me is an acceptable old shirt with no holes for them is “vintage” because they do have the choice to buy new. They will find it really hard to understand because we are clouding the real issues (benefit cuts, unfair sanctions, Atos and the dismal situation in the work market) by worrying about people who do not worry about themselves. We will be pigeonholed along with them.

Social consensus says that a mother with young children will get help (eg social housing) before a single man. The disabled before the healthy. I am just asking that that poor “healthy” man or woman that are currently getting no points despite doing everything right are not on the bottom of the pile. After all, if you have two kids and one of them is an angel and the other is misbehaving, you do not go out of your way to reward the latter at the expense of the former. If you do, you are destroying two lives in the process: one learns he will get what he wants no matter what he does and the other learns that he won’t get anything no matter how hard he tries. At the moment, both kids are being punished because of the misdemeanour of one.

Anyway, that’s the last I have to say on this matter. I will reply to any comments left on my blog but will not go out of my way to do it anywhere else. If thinking what I am thinking makes me a Tory then so be it.

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