The Criminality of a Price on Life

In yesterday ‘s Guardian the Government is facing calls to investigate ” a deeply worrying trend in the number of deaths from cocaine use”, 432  in 2017 compared with 112 in 201. I would never dispute any needless death is sad, nor am I unsympathetic to the reasons behind drug use; but it is a choice.

Compare this to a report on Wednesday by Welfare Weekly who demonstrated “111,450 ESA claims were closed following the death of claimants between March 2014 to February 2017″. These people Died through NO fault of their own and indeed may have be as a result of Government Processes.

Desperately this is not new, back in 2014 I was writing about the number of Chronically Sick and Disabled people dying waiting for benefits where ” between January & November 2011 10,600 disabled people either in receipt of or awaiting benefits died”

I called it a Scandal then, now I can only call it Criminal and my real question is Where is the Call for this to Stop ?

I  don’t know if there is one place which has recorded all the deaths of sick and disabled people either waiting for, or after losing their Welfare Benefits;  Steve Topple at The Canary used the Welfare Weekly figures and calculates

the deaths per day were:

  • Slightly more than 7 in the “unknown” group.
  • 9.02 during the assessment phase.
  • 10 in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).
  • Almost 75 in the Support Group.

Further there are numerous petitions, reports and investigations undertaken by ourselves as a disabled community through to the UN; all attempting to identify – Why have so many of our most vulnerable citizens died before their time.

Despite the struggles to address this over the past seven or eight years it continues; ergo I feel compelled to ask When and by Whom will the #DWP, who as the benefits administrator must surely be the responsible party and the Ministers of State who Manages said department be held to account?

Nothing will bring back those we have lost, but surely no one will disagree, it well past time those responsible paid the price for these needless Deaths – it is Time For The TRUTH.

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Esther McVey screams abuse at “ugly, destructive, Marxist, Militant, socialists” and subcontracts DWP to Citizens’ Advice.

#McVey Continues to live on another bloody planet

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Image result for esther mCvey

Pretty constructive Esther Attacks “ugly, destructive, Marxist socialists.”

Tory Esther McVey suggests her own party’s benefit cuts are “fake news” in shameless conference speech,

Reports the Mirror

The Work and Pensions Secretary launched her attack despite cuts being well-documented by experts and her predecessor Iain Duncan Smith.

She told Tory members in Birmingham: “If you were to believe everything you heard from Labour or read on social media you’d think we were somehow letting down the most vulnerable in society – especially disabled people.

“However, those who say we are cutting budgets are peddling fake news.

“So here’s the real news – we have never spent more on those with disabilities and long-term health conditions. We spend over £50billion a year, up £9billion on 2010.”

Ms McVey said she became a Conservative to stand against the “ugly, destructive, Marxist, Militant, socialists of the past”.

Today the Independent reports.

DWP calls…

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Benefits and Mental Health

I have a Guest post in this months Chronic Illness Inclusion Project  if you have 5 minutes to pop over and have a look at the site, as well as sharing my post, I would much appreciate it.

“Through therapy I recognised that I had internalised Neoliberal ideology; I had put a price on my own life and found myself lacking. Acknowledging this has given me the tools to address it. I am so fortunate to have had access to the appropriate therapy as it has helped me comprehend the real value of Life as a disabled woman but, more importantly, as me. I have forgiven myself for absorbing such poison but I cannot forgive the authors of this dehumanising rhetoric.”….

free bus travel for all ESA, JSA and Universal Credit claimants.

There is a Petition on the Government website that is asking the Government to : To fund free bus travel for all ESA, JSA and Universal Credit claimants. It was created by Maria Nelson who lives with back and joint problems and due to her semi-rural location has a 12 mile circular trip to the nearest jobcentre and a 16 miles round trip for medical and support services. Maria attends various appointments for both health and support, and with a daily bus pass being £7.50, a busy week can cost her over a quarter of her ESA.  Realising she is not alone she decided to start the petition 

Empathising with Maria’s situation, I am supporting this petition through this post; to  give you a proper insight as to its importance, below is the rationale in Maria’s words.

My name is Maria Nelson and I created this petition to ask the Government to fund free travel for people claiming  ESA, JSA and Universal Credit (UC)
The reasons are many and varied, to coin a phrase favoured by the DWP, the  Conservative Government claims it wants to support sick and disabled people, the low paid and job seekers; but the  reality is very different.
Many claimants live in rural and semi rural locations, not within walking distance to shops, advice services or the jobcentre, further many are disabled or suffering chronic pain and assorted illness and so rely on public transport to comply with UC compliance rules such as attending appointments, assessments, jobsearch programmes and training.
These same claimants often need to access support and advice services to fill in UC, Pip, ESA and other claim forms and for help with appeals; these services are usually at locations which aren’t local or within comfortable safe walking distances. JSA claimants and wrag (work related assessed group) also need to attend jobcentres to search for work and attend interviews.
Sometimes  people can claim travel money back, but obviously they have to pay it up front, also jobcentres and assessment centres won’t tell you this unless you ask?
Sick and disabled people also need to attend medical appointments and travel can be costly for this too; for example I have appointments on  both 10th and 11th September and this will cost me £12.00. The cost of travel has sky-rocketed in the past 8 years, but our benefits do not go up according to the cost of living  or inflation; many chronically sick and disabled people are living well below the poverty line, defined at 60% of average income.
I’m at currently living at about 43% below the average income, but others such as those on JSA are far worse off. Many claimants are surviving on income so low that after council tax, bedroom tax, and the money to make up Housing benefit shortfall for rent can’t afford bus travel and are forced to walk many miles. This becomes a real issue if you are one of the many middle-aged, sick, and, or, disabled who cannot walk long distances.
A  further point to note is if claimants could access the free travel scheme ran by most Councils, it would save the DWP and its many training schemes and work provider deliverers a whole lot of clerical hours and paper when paying out individual travel claims.
I feel having concessionary travel passes and it is not the least important,  many disabled people live alone and don’t have access to a car; I can personally vouch that struggling with shopping  because you can’t afford the travel cost is detrimental to health. I pulled my arm joint struggling to get a trolley on a bus; living in a village I have to use the bus to get to and from the supermarket. I also feel completely isolated, which is detrimental to and already has damaged my mental health. Other than essential travel to shop, get to medical treatment I can not afford to get out.
I would also, as per Human Right Act, like to occasionally partake in community and social events when I feel well enough.
Their are millions like me.
Regarding UC, many on benefits will be changed to UC  next year. How on earth are we meant to access help with no income for 5 weeks and having to save to pay the rent for the duration? How are we supposed to access food banks, charity support, advice without travel?
There are so many more reasons a travel pass would free us.
 Please sign my petition  and share it, ask friends to help. Don’t forget to Confirm your signature in the email from Parliament or it doesn’t count.”
On behalf of Maria Thank-you

Cohen’s mistake is to call for us to be conservative both in language and politics.

This is an important piece of analysis regarding the use of language and disability. Neil is correct, the words we use are crucial in the design of Policies but, the Actions that are taken afterwards carry foe more weight; a piece to read, digest and read again

Making rights make sense

Nick Cohen makes three important points. In his Spectator piece ‘The Cheating Language of Equality’ and its abridged version in last Sunday’s Observer ‘Honeyed Words do nothing to curb prejudice against the disabled’ he notes how insistence on certain adopting forms of language when discussing issues connected to disability have done little to obstruct deep and damaging cuts to services and financial support. Indeed, I would share his analysis and add that the very ideas and language advocated by people such as myself may also sometimes have been weaponised to make the case for cuts, or certainly may have had the effect of diminishing public concern. Cohen also bemoans the reliance on what he labels ‘euphemism’, arguing that ‘it is easier to remove state support if you describe disabilities in a sing-song voice so soft and light you make them sound as if they are not disabilities at…

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Revealed: The next bill for the over 40s: Your social care tax

As David Henke says this suggestion was scribed by someone earning at LEAST £77.000 pa AND…
“they completely ignored the plight of 3.9 million 50s women. – many being forced to work for up to six years – and would now have to pay extra insurance or tax just at the point when they find it difficult to get a highly paid job.”

David Hencke

ImageVaultHandler.aspx pic credit: parliament.uk

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM 

Without huge coverage MPs from two influential Parliamentary committees yesterday proposed a new tax system to pay for the burgeoning cost of social care.

The proposal could mean a new hike in national insurance contributions, some redistribution of money going to fund your local council, higher council, inheritance and income tax  and/or abolishing some of the existing universal pension benefits, like the heating allowance or cutting future state pension rises.

Significantly it includes making existing pensioners pay more tax particularly if they are still supplementing their pension by working.

This makes this the first serious policy proposal to deliberately tax people differently depending on their age – and exempting the millennials  at the expense of the elderly. In that it feeds into the current  and my view misconceived debate that millennials are being robbed by wealthy pensioners and the system must be changed…

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The Price of Disability and Mental Health

Yesterday I completed almost 2 year of Psycho-dynamic Therapy, and the best part of this slightly scary but exciting experience is, it was my decision to leave. This may seem odd, but after dedicating more that 100 Tuesday afternoons to an intense examination of my life,  I am now well enough to stop. I have learnt so much in this time about myself, and  in in any other relationship I would call my therapist my best friend. She has supported me through this journey with intelligence and total compassion and it is Ali I will miss most.

Living with Depersonalisation means I have had to relearn what emotions feel like; to try and clarify this I ‘feel’ with my body, I experience the ranges of emotion physically, negative emotions like anger and I develop intense heartburn, annoyance is felt in my stomach, pleasurable emotions come from my back and shoulders. I understand this might seem really odd but it is a part of who I am, and now I recognise the signs I can manage my responses. Similarly learning to accept and understand why and how my Depression affects me I am confident I can better manage it.

With Ali’s assistance I have realised I will always have my mental illness, and that I can live with it without it consuming me, I have rediscovered that although I have both physical and mental disabling factors these do not define me.

Of the vast amount of knowledge I gained, the one I’m sharing is the reaffirmation that I along with every living being, is by virtue of our existence, Enough. Enough may seem a strange word to use, but I struggled to find one that didn’t suggest having a financially cost to it, a Google synonym check on valuable returned:  Precious, Costly, High-priced, High cost, Expensive, Dear, in the first line.

The notion of life having a price, allows and goes some way to inform the rhetoric of the current government. When each person apparently has a cost appointed to them; it most be remembered some people are deemed more expensive than others, for example it is asserted disabled people cost £570 a month,  Taking this a step further, Conservative  ideology appears to assert each person must literally ‘pay their way’  and wherever someone is entitled to financial help from the State, this Price is paramount.

I propose it is this thinking that underpins the persistent discrimination against people claiming benefits and in particular disabled people. Claimants are reminded throughout the process of claiming and interminably in the majority of main stream media, to be as Failing to contribute, and be the direct opposite of valuable which is worthless.

The seemingly endless assertions of worthlessness certainly amplified my recent descent into severe depression, and the increase in poverty I and other disabled people are experiencing will continue to have a negative impact on my mental health.

Through therapy I recognised I had internalised the Conservative ideology of a price on my own life, and that I had found myself lacking. However acknowledging this has given me the tools to address it, I have forgiven myself for absorbing this poison but not the authors of this rhetoric.

I know how fortunate I am to have had access to Ali, she has helped me comprehend the real value of Life as a disabled woman but more importantly as me.