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.”….

Advertisements

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…

View original post 1,386 more words

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.