Thursday, 8 November 2012

"...and then you Win"


This won’t be a short post, but it is a crucially important one.

I have never written about something on this blog that I couldn’t prove to be true. If I didn’t have evidence that I could show you online, I didn’t write about it.

I’ve had many conversations with Labour MPs or peers or journalists or managing directors or trade unions  that I couldn’t share, but each one added to my overall understanding of ESA (Employment Support Allowance)

Today though, I think it’s important that I try to lay out very clearly what I feel I “know” about ESA, WCAs, Atos, the DWP and the current political situation.

I’ve dismissed those I judged to be fools along the way, the way we all do every day as we decide to trust someone or not, to believe something or not. I’ve made my judgements from meeting people, from talking to them. I like to “see the whites of their eyes” when I can. I research people, I try to “know” them and what makes them tick.

I’ve judged evidence and analysis along the way and tried always to get as close to a truth I could prove as possible.

I’ve dug into the history of welfare reform where I could. I’ve tried to find out what was going on with Labour at the time, when were Atos brought in? What was Unum’s involvement, who designed ESA? Which DPOs and charities were involved?

At every stage, with every decision, every   speech, every article, I’ve tried to think of the people who read my blog. I’ve tried to ask what we need to change and why. How to change it. Who are the real enemies? Why? What methods of demanding change are effective?

 Of course, my judgements may not have been yours. I have absolutely no way of actually “knowing” if I was right or wrong, too na├»ve or too cynical, biased or balanced but the following summary is where I feel we are in my heart from everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve met.

There are so many things that so urgently need changing about ESA, forgive me if I forget any here. For every bullet point, the section in italics is my opinion on where we currently stand.         
  •       Medical evidence from own GP or consultant rarely taken into account
One of the most shocking statistics disclosed about WCAs was that DWP decision makers only refer to medical evidence as well as the Atos decisions in 2% of cases. Harrington recommended that medical evidence should always be considered and there has been progress- 8% of decisions are now overturned by DWP decision makers, suggesting they are referring to medical evidence much more. This has not yet been rolled out everywhere, so we might hope to see the figures improve further. However, the ideal solution would be for decisions to be taken by an independent doctor, based on all the evidence available.
  •     Descriptors used to assess fitness to work are far too narrow and not based on real life. They discriminate against those with mental illness, long term chronic illness, learning difficulties and more.
No assessment can ever be fair or functional if the descriptors are wrong. ESA descriptors are so wrong, they need totally fundamental reform. I got the impression that something shifted in the early part of this year. Government suddenly decided to go ahead with a trial of alternative descriptors (you can see them here) that were much fairer and broader and more rooted in a real life test. Though far from perfect, I believe they would give much more realistic results and provide much more opportunity for HCPs to make informed decisions.

The timescales to test these new descriptors is very quick for government. They will be trialled alongside a panel of expert decision makers to see how accurate they are. This process will be run by civil servants and if they are a notable improvement on the current descriptors, government do say that they will be implemented.

We can help make sure the new descriptors are fairly trialled and the results accurately reported by keeping an eye on the trial, communicating with the charities responsible for writing the new descriptors and making sure that this isn’t somehow quietly shelved while we’re not looking. However, if all went well, we might be looking at the introduction of the new descriptors by 2014.
  •          Disability assessment centres are not all accessible to disabled people, often with no parking (!?!)
This is something that Atos has pledged to change as soon as they can. Whether might choose to be sceptical, but they have said on their blog and elsewhere that they are committed to quickly making all centres fully accessible.

We can make sure they do this by writing to them and saying how important it is, urging them not to delay and telling them your own stories of trying to access an inaccessible centre.
  •          The Support group is too narrow and far too difficult to get into.
Support group numbers have been steadily rising. Last year the government had to find an extra £1 billion due to paying more people than they had predicted going into the support group. The figures are still rising and suggest they will continue to rise as the Harrington changes are rolled out. Grayling has said that they are “intensely relaxed” about this rise in Support Group numbers if it means those in genuine need are getting help and certainly, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of this rise being suppressed or restricted.

Once the latest figures are adjusted to take account of appeal decisions, around 35% will end up in the Support Group, around  42% in the WRAG and 23% fit for work. This is a huge improvement on the shocking days of  new-claim only  ESA stats, where just 6% were going into the support group, 18% into the WRAG and a full 77% of claims not resulting in any award of ESA.

There’s still a long way to go. I would argue that the support group should be bigger than the WRAG and that 23% is too many being found fit for work, but there really has been great improvement.
  •          Sanctions of any kind, but particularly time limiting bad health to one year, are inappropriate for people with serious illnesses or disabilities.
Sanctions and penalties are most beloved by this government despite no evidence at all, anywhere in the world that they work. They have totally refused to listen or compromise at all over this and I can’t see that they will. The public are currently very supportive of sanctions and mostly believe they should actually be tougher.

However, workfare, work providers and some of the reality of sanctions have taken a hit this year thanks to the work of people like Johnny Void and Boycott Workfare, with big companies experiencing a strong public backlash leading them and charities to pull out of workfare and other failing schemes.

More to the point, the way the government has set up the “payment by results” scheme, means that small providers who tend to get good results are going to the wall while less targeted, less successful large companies are unable to hit the targets set. The reality is, most sanctions will either never be used, or will be quietly abandoned as the government realise they either cause too much embarrassment or the scheme collapses totally because none of the providers are getting paid.
  •          Decisions take far too long. Appealing a wrong decision can take well over a year.
This is only getting worse with backlogs growing, targets for re-assessment falling further behind and tribunals taking longer. Soon, as the government realise that it is, in fact, impossible to actually assess 2 million people and keep on assessing them indefinitely. They cannot achieve accurate assessment rates assessing 11,000 people a week. There simply aren’t the HCPs to do the job.

Assessment rates need to fall by around half and government must accept that the whole process will take longer then they predicted. When assessment rates DO fall, the appeal rate also falls drastically as shown in Kettering who have implemented all of the Harrington changes enthusiastically. Getting the decision right first time, by taking the necessary time with each claimant saves the taxpayer millions and the person being assessed trauma and unnecessary waits for tribunals etc.

There is strong anecdotal evidence that Atos and the DWP are now pre-assessing many as unable to work without calling them for assessment. This is exactly what we always said they would have to do. It is how the original IB system worked and though the government are clinging on to the rhetoric, they are realising we were right all along and there really IS no point in assessing people who will never get better and who clearly will never work. This is a big win, but you’re unlikely to hear about it.

·         Healthcare professionals (HCPs) used by Atos to assess disability do not have to be doctors and do not need to have any specialism or prior understanding of the condition the claimant suffers from to make a decision.

Atos have pledged “mental health champions”, up and down the country, claiming that they will make the assessments fairer for those suffering from mental illness. This is welcome, but unless the assessor has some knowledge of the conditions they are assessing they cannot possibly make an accurate decision. Atos might consider other teams of expert assessor for other conditions. Though it might mean claimants travelling further to be assessed, if specialist teams were more accurate it would be a small price to pay. All HCPs should have a working knowledge of either general medicine or the speciality of the person they are assessing.
  •         Reports written by HCPs are inaccurate; often bearing no resemblance to what the claimant reports was actually said.
This still seems to be shockingly common. The DWP have said in principle that all assessments can be recorded, but in reality are blocking the process. Until someone being assessed for ESA is afforded the same basic rights as a criminal, and assessments are recorded, claimants cannot make sure this doesn’t happen.

As both Atos and the DWP have said that assessments can be recorded and have pledged to get working recording machines into assessment centres, we can make sure people get accurate HCP reports by keeping the pressure on the DWP to provide these machines in every centre. This is one area that I know is under great pressure legally too. Having the law on our side can only help.
  •          Questions are misleading, seemingly designed to “catch people out”
A longer assessment using the improved descriptors, should make this less likely, but there is a culture of suspicion between state and claimant that must be talked from the roots up. All the time ESA is only designed to catch the cheats, it will never serve those in genuine need.
  •         Mail containing highly personal and sensitive information on forms is opened and sorted by a third party.          
Mails used to be opened by the Royal Mail, sorted and only then sent on to Atos. Once the DWP finally accepted that the practise was commonplace, they have now pledged to stop it. We can make sure they do by keeping the pressure on.
  •          Correspondence sent to the claimant is threatening and frightening.
This is one area where Atos have seemed very keen to make improvements. They have redesigned their website to make information more easily available, less frightening and more sensitive. They now have a patient charter and say that they will work hard to make the whole claimant experience more customer focussed and compassionate.

They would like people to advise them on how to do that, what we would like to change etc. Of course, we can refuse to make things better right at the point where Atos are asking how to, but that feels a bit like a four year old having a tantrum. We’re grown ups and we can’t change things if we don’t explain what needs to change and why.
  •         Language used by politicians and press to discuss those claiming ESA is derogatory and demeaning. Scroungers, skivers, feckless, festering – we are called all these things. Journalism is often lazy and full of inaccuracies.
For some time now, we haven’t been unheard. Just two years ago, no-one was writing about ESA at all, other than to remind the public that we were all scroungers who could be working. Now, the Guardian, the Mirror, the Independent, Private eye, Political Scrapbook, Left wing blogs and even the Spectator are running regular stories about the failures of ESA and the WCA. Channel  4 have run some fantastic sections on the failures of ESA and even the Daily Mail have allowed blogs about ESA written by the indomitable Sonia Poulton.

Slowly but surely, things are changing. Bit by bit we are [persuading those that matter to persuade the public that we are right and the government are wrong.

It is frustratingly slow. The public have to read things many times over before they accept them and we still have a long way to go. But things are totally different now to two years ago and momentum is building in our favour.
  •          ESA had cross party support. There was almost total political consensus that it was good policy.
From my own point of view, this is what I most wanted to change and the thing I’ve worked hardest on. All the time we still have a Labour party blind to the suffering of sick and disabled people, they are not a Labour party. It has been achingly slow with disappointments and faux-pas at every stage. It pains me that I have had to drag Labour to every concession kicking and screaming, that some in the party still think ESA is right. It hurts me to remember some of the judgemental speeches and thoughtless, unfounded coalition policies they originally supported.

But as I wrote here Labour have made real steps in the past year to put the mistakes of ESA behind them. They are now saying they are listening and travelling the country discussing sickness and disability policy with those actually affected. They have laid out a set of “rights” they believe sick and disabled people should be able to rely on and they have admitted ESA is a mess and isn’t working . Byrne’s Beveridge 2 speech was a turning point in which Labour started to dare to say the word disability again. I DO believe Labour are listening. They realise that we face very grave threats, that we are not just the usual suspects making a fuss. It’s up to us to tell them what we need. We can’t sit at our keyboards complaining then refuse to say what we want.

The EDM raised by John McDonnell was signed by 114 MPs and became the 3rd most signed EDM Every day a new Labour MP or even a Lib Dem or Conservative join the growing chorus of MPs opposed to WCAs. Again, it’s slow and it’s frustrating, but we’re getting there.

It is also now Lib Dem policy to oppose WCAs despite their actions. This might not help now, but could come in very handy in the event of a future Lib/Lab coalition,

Once the political consensus is broken, it gets much harder for the government to get away with leaving ESA a shambles.

Jon Cruddas, the head of Labour’s policy review, has promised to make sure anything we send to Liam Byrne and Anne MacGuire goes to the very heart of discussions over future policy. I believe him because he’s a good guy who’s written articles about sickness and disability that sound just like mine. He is a politician who really understands our issues.

I honestly believe we have a chance if we just make sure we tell Labour what they have to do and keep the pressure on them to do it.

But we have to tell them.
  •          It’s pointless expensive and unnecessarily distressing to constantly re-assess those with disabilities so severe and profound that they will never work.
(Dealt with under delays and appeals above)
  •          The help & support politicians say people with serious illnesses and disabilities will get to find work is totally inappropriate and ineffective. It conflates disability benefits with JSA (Jobseekers Allowance) Most people who lose ESA have not found work.
As I’ve argued here and here it is no good sorting out all of the problems above if there is no work sick and disabled people can actually get or do. The work provision is woefully inadequate, the system is not going to make work pay for us and we need to totally re-design the help and support government provide. If you can take part, please leave your comments below the articles and let politicians know what you need to work and what that work should be
  •          The public were unaware of all these faults and generally thought ESA was a good policy.
Sadly, this is the area where we still have the most work to do. Most people still don’t know what’s happening and disability is not an issue they think about often or that interests them much. If we are sitting around waiting for people to wake up and say “Oh, this is terrible, we have to stop it!” they aren’t going to do that any time soon. Think how long it took for Tom Watson to expose phone hacking?  It took years to spill over into genuine public outrage. There isn’t going to be a revolution.
All we can do is chip away, every day, telling more and more people, getting them to tell even more people. Slowly but surely, opinion will change.

If you look at all I’ve written above, we’re well on the way to winning most of the points above. If we haven’t won, we’re at least at the place where we’ve won a seat around the table. We’ve made massive progress since 2010 and the truth is that with new descriptors, accessible centres staffed by respectful courteous experienced staff, more paper assessments taking place, higher support group and WRAG numbers a commitment from Labour to make rights a reality for disabled people and to really listen to what we need we have all the ingredients of success. With Atos claiming that they are willing to improve assessments  implement the Harrington changes and allow assessments to be recorded we’ve come a huge way in two years.

Of course we still have a long way to go, of course it isn’t enough but I think it shows for itself how successful a strategy of engagement and lobbying can be. We would have achieved none of this without sustained and often boring small changes, bit by bit, day by day, chipping away at everything that is warped and wrong with ESA. The government become more and more isolated by the day as the BMA, every main charity, Atos, the press and the opposition parties edge further and further away from supporting ESA.
This might not be the way everyone would do business but I don’t care about saving face or an ultimate glorious win that may never come.

I want to ACTUALLY win and that means compromise, boring detail, hard work and disappointments.
The proof of the pudding will be ESA in 2015. Tragically that will be too late for many, but better to win slowly but surely than to never win at all. 

30 comments:

  1. A really clear and informative piece, as ever. Lots of "XXXX" throughout though, so I'm not sure if this is your final draft!

    As for "There is strong anecdotal evidence that Atos and the DWP are now pre-assessing many as unable to work without calling them for assessment." this is exactly what happened with my Brother's claim. After reading your blog and various other related information online for some time, the dreaded ESA form arrived on the mat for him. I spent quite some time writing essays for each answer and within weeks of sending it back, we had a letter telling us that he had been put straight into the Support Group.

    Keep up the good work. There are a lot of disabled people and their families and carers who rely on the clear and well written information you provide.

    Thank you.

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

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  3. Another excellent informative blog! Sue - you are a star! ;o)

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  4. A couple of us are meeting with Anne McGuire on the 16th hoping to help further the progress made so far. Labour really are listening now and a lot of that is down to hard campaigning to raise awareness of just how shamefully unfair the assessments are.

    I am sure that Atos were contracted by this Government to strip welfare.

    Steven Bicks exposed the targets fairly recently, and those targets exist before we even get to the WCA. That explains why real medical evidence is ignored. Atos's renewed contract was all about the welfare reforms and saving welfare budgets, and NOTHING to do with the realities of illness and disabiliy, or our welfare and well being. And we KNOW it isn't about fraud because the DWP estimate of 0.5% would not justify the endless assessments and having to appeal, bullying letters, apparent incompetence that happens , coincidently, to so many of us (like, " we lost you file/letter/evidence"...) and so on. And even IDS conceded quietly that of that 0.05% estimated as "fraud". a lot of that is down to DWP "system error". I note the scrounger rhetoric hasn't let up one bit, though...

    Some things are difficult to accept. But the truth is this callous Government has shown total indifference to the deaths and utter despair that amongst sick and disabled peoeple. One cannot help but conclude that the death and despair is therefore an intended consequence of their harsh, punitive, welfare provision removing policy making,

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  5. Thanks. Progress my be slow but it is happenng.

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  6. Too optimistic, I'm afraid, Sue.
    Take for example where you say "Atos have pledged “mental health champions”, up and down the country, claiming that they will make the assessments fairer for those suffering from mental illness. This is welcome, but unless the assessor has some knowledge of the conditions they are assessing they cannot possibly make an accurate decision."
    This was reiterated in the Commons by Mark Hoban:

    Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party)
    We have been told that Professor Harrington’s recommendations on the introduction of mental health champions to improve work capability assessments have been implemented, yet only two mental health champions cover the whole of Scotland and both of them are based in the central belt. What steps have Ministers put in place to measure the effectiveness of mental health champions?

    Mark Hoban (Fareham, Conservative)
    We have introduced a mental health champion in every single assessment centre throughout the country.


    On contacting the DWP it seems that when Hoban says they've introduced a champion into every assessment centre, he actually means that there is a sort of phone service available. Allies and colleagues are submitting an FOI for details of that, who can use it, who it is for etc.

    So, that's a very deceptive statement Hogan gave in the House then. Not a lie but so disingenuous as to be indistinguishable from one.

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  7. Thank you for writing this. I hope you're right, I have my assessment on the 22nd and I've never been this anxious and so stressed that my health is even worse than normal. I cannot take this, I can guarantee you I will be dead if they declare me fit for work and that is not hyperbole

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  8. Wow, that's a bit of an epic, and it doesn't show a fraction of the work that you and Kaliya and everyone else have put into getting us this far. Kudos!

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  9. Thanks for a very encouraging piece, Sue. I hope you're right! But I do believe things are shifting - exposure of the rank unfairness of the WCA had to change something and all your good campaigning has revealed even more of the dreadful truth to those who want to know.

    There is also ongoing work on "fluctuating" conditions, which ATOS and the DWP seem unable to assess properly. See:

    http://www.meassociation.org.uk/?p=13495

    I'm not sure they have quite got it right, but it's showing more and more the complexity of assessing people with sickness and disability - and the sheer inadequacy of the current WCA. I think a total rethink is needed, but how long will that take?

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  10. Thankyou for all you do for us Sue,without people like you to lead us we would all be sat in the dark scared and lonely but at least together we can fight and have hope,hugs Tony and Tanya

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  11. Heartfelt thanks once again, Sue to you and everyone else working so hard for change. Your commitment and determination would be laudable even if you were in full health; given that you're far from that, they are amazing. You are amazing ♥

    I have a complex mix of M.E., Asperger's, PTSD, IBS and chronic anxiety with depression (sigh). The changes to the benefit system impacted severely on my mental health and I've slipped several rungs down the (ill) health ladder. First my DLA was refused after 7 yrs of receiving it, so I had to ask them to reconsider. Luckily they did, and reversed the decision.

    Then, just a few months later, it was time for the migration from incapacity benefit to ESA. Having stayed informed through social media etc I decided to start filling out my ESA50 online and in advance. It took me three months of doing a little every day and was utterly soul-destroying because focussing intently on every aspect of my ill-health is not what I like to do. I followed guides from the benefits and works forum, got advice from facebook groups, and provided lots of support evidence from GP, hypnotherapist, my son (witness statement). My son helped me pore over the form, amending it over and over again until I felt it described my very restricted life as accurately as possible.

    I'm glad to say I was placed into the support group without a medical, but the impact of the whole procedure was terrible. My health slipped down that ladder yet again and I was unable to feel full relief at the decision because the fear and panic-stricken anxiety have only eased somewhat, not gone away, and I also felt a sort of survivor guilt because so many people had the worse possible outcome.

    I got the best possible outcome, but I still have a sense of living on borrowed time as I wonder where the next attack will come from.

    I sincerely hope that we are moving towards something better for disabled people, that non-disabled people wake up and realise what's happening, and that it could happen to them, and that Labour does listen to us, and stops using the same prejudiced rhetoric as the Tories.

    Thanks again Sue x

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  12. Another great blog - in my own experience - my 4th assessment was last Jan/Feb this year - Since October 2009 until then I had 4 assessments 2 of them face to face - these being the first and the third only 14 months months apart.
    It being a year since the 3rd assessment I expected to be called for another face to face assessment on receipt of my ESA50, regardless of the fact that I had now been diagnosed with a neurological disease which was responsible for exacerbating some of my symptoms from my degenerative spinal condition. On appeal, my mobility award was granted a few months earlier.
    I was knocked sideways when, after sending my 4th ESA 50 back in 3 years I received a telephone call from someone at ESA to tell me that I wouldn't be assessed again for 2 years. I laughed and said - but I reach my state pension age 3 months before that date.
    Both my face to face assessments were carried out by doctors who seemed to have knowledge of the implications of my conditions, and physical examinations were carried out. However I left both assessments feeling anxious as to the outcomes after the catch you out questions etc,and the attitudes of these doctors. Need I say more? I was well aware, having listened to the legal services worker at the CAB who did my DLA appeal just how 'pot luck' the WCA is in her opinion, and the number of appeals she was inundated with.
    So yes, we are winning little by little. Can't help thinking though, in the light of the recent statistics though that my age has something to do with it. IB claimants who will reach state pension age before February 2014 will not be reassessed for ESA. Maybe I have been afforded the same rights - whatever - ironically it feels good to be 'written off.'
    However, it doesn't end there - the prospect of being invited to claim PIP, if the proposed descriptors remain fills me with dread. I dare not think of the implications for all of us if that happens.
    Thank you again Sue - must go now as I have some empty cardboard boxes to rearrange!

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  13. MY BRIEF TO MY MP WITH REGARDS THE WELFARE REFORM BILL

    My views sue was that a DWP official and independent medical assessor came to the benefits claimants house to do the review this would make things far less stressful for those to ill to get out of the house plus those who in general who illnesses are made worse by stress
    the benefit claimant would also be able to have their carer their to be able to discuss what the needs of the claimant are and why they cant work

    this type of policy could also be used to make sure that the claimant was getting the correct amount of money and that fraud wasn't taking place as they would be able to confirm that they lived at the address by way of showing utility bills passport etc

    my way would take much longer for everyone to be screened but their would be far less errors and much life saved as it stands now the errors in the system have resulted in many deaths

    my tory mp is still of the mind that my way is the correct way and with much regret it isn't in place

    he also said it was sound but it would take to long so it has to be done quick killing the weakest in the process and needs changing fast to save lives

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  14. i should also add that they will still be those that will die because of continual errors in the system as all of the DWP/ATOS staff involved are not using a logical process Only some so the death toll will still continue to rise as what sue states is what should be a very simple process becomes way to long winded and over complex resulting in more people dying and i don't see an end in sight for most of the sick and disabled

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  15. Well done Sue and thanks very much for all your hard work. Your feisty campaigning, along with the work of groups like DPAC is I agree slowly getting us somewhere.

    You asked what we would need for work to be accessible to us. Obviously that varies vastly from person to person and many would be unable to hold down a job no matter what. But for some of us, myself included, the primary obstacle to employment is the profiteering capitalist system. This is because I can do some things, some work-related activities if you like, but only very slowly and erratically. At best I might be able to work for a couple of hours several days a week on good weeks, but for many weeks of the year I am unable to do anything and I can't predict when those will be. Travelling depletes my energy supply so I'd have to mainly do my tiny bit from home. Stress makes my condition worse so I could not produce work to deadlines. At my best my working pace is much slower than most non-disabled people's and my learning pace is also very slow. I could not work in a noisy office as I can barely concentrate at the best of times. I also have a chronic cough which colleagues would doubtless find very irritating. Nonetheless, in my ideal world I would work, despite all this, and would earn enough to have a reasonable quality of life, since I subscribe to Marx's maxim: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need'. But at present businesses are desperately competing for contracts, the public sector is coping with swingeing budget cuts and doing things the cheapest way possible is the name of the game. Without a very radical change in our economic system paid work for me and many thousands like me will remain a pipedream.

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  16. In some recent court cases when the accused were asked how they funded their gains they all said 'benefits' and this was accepted by the jury and judge!! they all had holidays nice cars and live a lifestyle those that work can only dream of. Hence benefits are true lucrative and the gravy train must end.

    @jessie how do u think a taxpayer would feel reading yr drivel? while they go to the work in the dark u are sat in yr house curtains closed sleeping away. 'i want to work but i have a zillion conditions that need to be met namely i cant travel i cant work with others i cough i want time off whenever i can stress makes me worse (doesnt it for all of us?!!)' can u see why any employer isnt going to see u as the most useful person??

    ok jessie how about if we stopped yr lucrative handout would u then get a job? then u wouldnt be able to generate a list of excuses. work or perish right? yr choice. why should others fund yr life?

    jessie u are a disgrace and symbolise what this lazy nation has come to and why 1 million eastern europeans work here because ppl like u cant be bothered when benefits are more lucrative.

    stop welfare gravy train must end. working taxpayers have had had ENOUGH of funding layabouts and shysters. stop welfare movement is growing fast and soon the whole welfare system will be smashed and sent back to where it belongs. why is US out of recession, no money wasted on weflare like here.

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    1. I had my "lucrative handout" stopped. I'm now dependent entirely on my husband, and I've determined that I will not claim again until I get my State pensionm - whenever that is.

      I hope you never have to rely on the less than £60 per week that I had to live on for months while my slipped disc was diagnosed. I also hope you never lose your job, or you might find out exactly how much benefits are and what you have to do to get them. Bear in mind you have contributed via National Insurance to the benefits system and you are entitled to them, just as Jessie may have. You're the disgrace here, hiding behind a string of drivel yourself. Oh and if you think there is no welfare in the US, you're wrong. Back in your hole.

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    2. What a load of garbage! Your argument about benefits being truly lucrative is pathetic, and you contradict yourself when you say that employers will not want to employ people with disabilities and then expect that removal of benefits will somehow lead to employment. You are expressing the myth that people can just go out and get jobs if they are motivated, yet you yourself state that employers probably won't be interested in employing many people, and it is employers that decide if a person will get a job. Those proposing that removing benefits will motivate people to get a job are either very stupid, or very evil.

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    3. Oh, c93f60a6-12f9-11e2-a1c3-000bcdcb471e, it's you again. The regular ignorant troll.

      Go find somewhere else to bore people with your mindless rubbish.

      Idiot.

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    4. "why is US out of recession, no money wasted on weflare like here."

      Wrong!! $423billion projected to be spent on welfare next year! That doesn't include pensions ($875billion) and this is just Federal spending!

      Calling Jessie a disgrace is strong coming from a complete idiot like you! Your rants are childish, ill-informed and at best sorry attempts at winding up vulnerable people who are finding it hard to live a bearable existence!

      What went wrong in your life to behave in the fashion you do? Bullied? Abused? Over pampered by nanny? Christ, I think everybody who contributes here can hold their heads high with dignity unlike you, you brainless moron!!



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  17. Hi
    Great Blog
    Keep up the good work
    X X

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  18. sorry peeps you just dont get it. there is no contradictions at all in what i said.

    i am saying that for ppl like @jessie and millions of others in this country who are similar if their benefits were stopped then all this lame pseudo ailments would disappear as then the torrent of free £££ has stopped what choice they then got? work or perish right?

    look at the list of excuses

    1. cough
    2. cant travel
    3. need time off when i like
    4. cant work in noisy place
    5. stress makes me worse (join the club!)

    which employer can satisfy this list of nonsense? the world doesnt revolve around u am afraid. with this kind of attitude no work would get done anywhere.

    yes paid work is a pipedream when u got oodles of guaranteed free ££ coming into yr bank every weeks that taxpaying fools like us contribute to.

    my arguement is stop the benefit u would then see all the crap u describe above suddenly disappear. u got 2 options then work or sink. dont blame everyone else for yr laziness.

    time for the benefits party to end u had it too good for the past 30 yrs while working ppl have suffered being worse off than those on benefits.

    as was said recently got a choice 1. go to uni get a degree get £30k debt have to live with parents 2. leave school get a council flat bang some kids out live a cushy life off others money

    u see why millions opt for number 2? yeah its only the ppl with moral that bother working, there is no other point working in this country when saying u got a cough and want to work when i want is enough to get a nice big fat handout from HMG!

    you see why support for benefit reform has never been greater. if benefits were stopped all these bs pseudo ailments would disappear as there is no financial incentive for them so why bother generating them in the first place??

    stop welfare movement is gathering pace fast. any country where the benefit cap is higher than the average wage aint going to get very far. stop welfare then ppl like jessie and co. will suddenly find the ability to work all of a sudden as they got no choice then :)

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    1. What in the world are you banging on about now?

      Have you ever read back over the bilge you spew out? Probably not because you're a troll trying to wind others up and nobody with half an ounce of decency would publish this sort of nasty crap.

      Reading the articulate posts and comments on this blog and then coming across you is like having gourmet food and then eating someone else's sick!

      Just look at the hyperbolic hogwash your childish, semi-literate rants contain.

      Who are the "millions" with "psuedo ailments"? Can you at least enlighten us with facts and figures?

      Who are the "stop welfare movement"? You and a couple of old pissheads down the pub don't make a 'movement'!

      The millions who "leave school and blah, drone, blah"... Again, any stats to back this up?

      There's plenty more of this sort of nonsense but nowhere do we see any evidence to support you're Fascistic drivel.

      I tell you what, back up your spurious claims and then you might just come across as mature and perhaps a bit intelligent. Otherwise, sod off and pester some losers on one of the right wing websites I've no doubt you inhabit.

      Delete
    2. I have a degree from Magdalen College, oxford, I also have an excruciating chronic pain condition as well as various neurological and stomach problems, please find me an employer who wants someone who can't walk, can barely function because of the amount of drugs they have, can't look at a computer for more than a few seconds at a time and can't hold a pen because of hands shaking so bad. I don't want to waste my degree but I don't have a choice.

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  19. Maddy, im in a similar situation. I have a degree in I.T. Diploma`s in other subjects, more letters after my name than the alphabet. But who wants to employ a guy who has a collapsing spine, nerve root issues in back, making things very uncomfortable, can just barely walk, have numb patches all over their lower body and pain with it. Cannot sit or stand, cannot not walk very far, some days not at all. But with it since last year, now has Epliepsy which is not under control, fits all the time one way of another, but still if affects my consciousness, and now wee`s himself whilst fitting? Would I make a great order picker at argos? Or a great shelf stacker at Tesco? Well dont matter anyway, they wont even employ me too do that.. Years of education destroyed. It pee`s me off when I go to the job centre and im talking to a person who im more qualified then, asking me if I would like to go on a training course... Bloody prats!

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    1. exactly, I just wanted to counter the perception that all of us are lazy, we are all victims of circumstance and was just using my degree to demonstrate that we are not lazy, the majority of us were highly motivated hard workers before we became ill!

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