Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Thatcher's Funeral - From the Most Vulnerable of All

Welfare reform. Much needed shake up of a system out of control or cruel and ignorant attack of some of the most vulnerable people in society? Most have an opinion.

Many like me, were fighting the welfare reform bill way back in 2011. We know every last detail, every twist and turn, every sweeping change and every technical detail. Believe me, it's cruel. 

On the whole, I think the cruelty is in the details. Oh, not the headline grabbing Benefit Cap or Universal Credit. They're largely PR stunts that won't save any money at all. Universal Credit could have been rather clever if only ministers had understood the details. If only they'd really understood the people they were legislating for. Their lives, the difficulties they face, the traps in the system, the precarious fear of a life on the margins of society. 

One of the most sickening details of all still grates with me almost daily. It was so cruel so unnecessary. It overturned decades of cross-party consensus and decency. It picked on a group so vulnerable it takes my breath away. And it stripped that group of basic rights despite ministers not actually understanding the policy at all. How cavalier can you be? How arrogant and out-of-touch? 

It was called the "Youth Premium" It only related to children who were born so profoundly disabled that they would never work as adults. Forget your Work Capability Assessments and your Scroungers, these children would never take part in society like you or I. Many would never talk, self feed, walk, play, laugh, fall in love. But they could still lead independent lives. Because we were a society that believed they should have a right to if they chose to.

The Youth Premium treated these children as though they had paid National Insurance. For a cost of just 11 million pounds, on becoming adults, these children were treated as though they had "contributed" through work and because of that, they were entitled to contributory benefits, they did not have to be means tested.

Such a simple thing, but what did it mean in practise? What did it mean to the people behind the numbers? The lives being toyed with? It meant they were entitled to live independently if they chose to. They were entitled to benefits in their own name, not as a means tested part of their family. Often, such profoundly disabled children had considerable compensation to see them through lives damaged beyond recognition by accidents. This compensation was just that. Money for an expensive future of care, adaptations to homes, aids to independence. For a lifetime, this money would have to pay for support just to make their lives as manageable as society could achieve.

No more. Any money would be part of the means test. They would have to run down reserves of cash or savings before the state would step in. Compensation is not income. Nor should it be. From the passing of the welfare bill, any security or savings put aside by families terrified what life would hold once parents or siblings had passed, would have to slowly seep away, leaving insecurity and hunger a shadow away before these few profoundly disabled neighbours and daughters and brothers could rely on any help or support from the state.

Our elite cabinet talked of how "unfair" it would be if "these people" "inherited" money but were still entitled to support from our social security system. No, they would simply have a little security to underpin the often modest state income someone with profound disabilities might expect. And how many of us can rely on generous inheritances anyway? Is that real life? A likely scenario? Of course not.


You might be wondering why I bring all this up again today. The law passed (you can see me pointing out to Chris Grayling why he didn't understand his own policy on Newsnight, here :





Well, it's that 11 million pounds. £11 million. In Westminster terms it would barely pay for the DWP's paperclips. It is a drop in the ocean of a welfare budget spanning 10s of billions. It only applied to a few thousand of the most disabled children in society (children just like Ivan Cameron, had he lived into adulthood.) But Lord Freud, failed investment banker and Minister for Welfare Reform, insisted that we could "no longer afford it" We could no longer afford to allow such profoundly disabled children lives of dignity and independence. No more security. No relief for worried families that they would be safe once they were gone. A cross-party consensus of decades, stripped away by ministers who didn't even know what they were doing.

This week, William Hague assures us we can afford £10 million for a ceremonial funeral for Margaret Thatcher. Opinion polls show the public don't want it, commentators from left and right are mystified, yet 2,200 people have been invited to a decadent funeral for a divisive PM who lies at the heart of many of the problems facing our society today. When I scanned the invitees yesterday, it felt surreal. A mish-mash of variety club has-beens, world leaders she shunned and elite aristocrats who shunned her when alive.

10 million for a dead PM, nothing for those living with some of the greatest barriers to society any of us will ever face. I actually feel a bit sick writing it down.

But perhaps, this is the most fitting legacy of all for a PM who assured us "there is no such thing as society"

Perhaps as she burns or rots (we will all do one or the other) every profoundly disabled life lived in chains of dependence because today's government didn't understand the details will haunt her. Perhaps she will see images of each and every one playing like a movie to her soul, wherever it ends up.

I hope so. Those children needed that £11 million. She doesn't.


46 comments:

  1. Fabulously written, and my thoughts exactly. I literally do not understand how the government bleats about not having any money left, but then this hugely divisive figure dies and suddenly its open cheque book time! It disgusts me and makes me wish for the time when I can afford to move to a more civilised country, like Sweden. This country is no longer civilised.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bravo! Another revealing blog from Sue. This Government just could not care less!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember that debate in the house, with a Baroness insisting the HoL had debated over much greater funds of money, and that 10m didn't make much of a different to the gov't, but meant a lot to the children involved. And I still remember Freud's reply that it was too expensive and insustainable....so yes, when I saw that 10m, and all the pomp and circumstance, and realised we could afford this but will not be able to afford to care for my son for the rest of his life?...yep. I seethed right along with you; you put into words what I've been too angry to even attempt to write about.

    And so it goes...writing angry posts while the gov't does as it likes. Things will have to shift; I cringe, but unless the British public really does insist on just rolling over and accepting all this, the future will be messy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My brother was one of those children, and became one of those adults. He died just before Christmas 2011, aged 29. Already the cuts were starting to hit him and his services, but we'd managed to limit the damage. We would have struggled to continue to do so in the current climate.

    I miss him terribly, but I am also horribly grateful that he's not suffering what the current government would put him through. His quality of life was already reduced due to loss of service. With the current cuts, it would have gone further, and we would have struggled to stop it - although we would have fought tooth and nail to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How exactly can "a few thousand" profoundly disabled people be supported for £11m?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not supported by. The law simply paid the NI contributions of the most profoundly disabled, resulting in the dignity/security I explain above

      Delete
    2. It's a start Richy B, it's a start.

      Delete
  6. Wonderful Sue,& I agree with the above - you certainly do put into words what we have been too angry (and sometimes too crippy) to write...



    ReplyDelete
  7. This is the very best article I have read about about the cuts. I hope so much that is widely read. Many like me know the government is lying and the cuts are callous but don't have the figures to quote or sharp parallels to point out. Your article has all of that but also is very moving about what has been taken away from severely disabled young people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can vouch for the viciousness starting. I have been informed that unless I pay council tax within 7 days, I will
      receive a court summons and further costs on top! I simply don't have the money to pay it. I have told them this, and they are insisting I pay the money. How? I cannot earn any money(through illness and age). I am alone - I do not have a partner to help. I wanted to point out to the council the injustice of taxcuts for millionaires running alongside taking more from the most vulnerable - but thought it would go against me. And in the end, we have to protect ourselves,
      because who else is going to help in this rotten country we have become?
      And £10,000,000 just for propaganda - to consolidate the power and politics of oppression!
      She won't be the only one going to her grave soon.

      Delete
  8. The removal of the Youth Premium does seem rather petty. However, where someone has means, whether through compensation or inheritance, why should those means be protected more for the disabled? We already, prior to this government, expected those who had compensation for redundancy or who had built up savings to provide for themselves to use those means before falling back on state assistance. Those profoundly disabled young people who will never work will still get assistance unless their means are such that they don't need it, but having to go through bureaucratic means testing is obviously unappealing.

    However, I think you are somewhat unfair to Mrs T in the use of the "no such thing as society" point as, in the context of the interview where she made that quote she also said:
    "many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective"

    Nothing there to say she was against communal action to provide for those who could not do so for themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's fair because for this uniquely narrow cohort, any lump sums represent the only security these people can ever rely on. Unlike almost everyone else in society, they simply cannot earn a living, so any compensation or savings has to be viewed through that prism.

      As I said, compensation is not the same thing as income.

      Even then, do we really begrudge such profoundly disabled people a decent quality of life? Can we really treat them in the way we treat the other 99.99% of the population? Any lump sums can literally mean the difference between life or death and surely anyone with an ounce of compassion would agree no substitute for income?

      Delete
    2. sue answers better than I can but if we expect families to use up their own resources before asking the state for their dwindling resources why can't Thatcher with her £66 million use this to pay for her own funeral.

      Delete
    3. This communal action that Mrs Thatcher never opposed, seen any of it lately mate?

      Delete
  9. Anger seethes through me and has been a pretty constant part of my life for a long time now - all because of the govt and their ridiculously cruel ways of attacking the poor, disabled, sick, or vulnerable people, making the poor poorer and the rich richer just as the late "Lady" Thatcher would have wanted!

    Reading the post above from susannahf saying on the one hand she misses her brother, but on the other hand she is glad he has not been made to suffer at the hands of this govt, has moved me from anger to tears.

    I wish we had a little more power to make them listen, but they don't care. And why should they care when they live such lavish lifestyles and don't have a clue what it is like for us? They are completely oblivious and seemingly heartless. Capitalism gone stark raving mad!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wouldn't it be ironic if there were "enthusiastic protests" at her funeral, to remind everyone of the riots she caused around the poll tax.

    The fact that they are spending this obscene amount of money at this time sums up her legacy.

    They don't dare put up a statue of her because of the fear of it being targeted and abused. I think people would be queuing up for that.

    As I said, a bit of spitting and dancing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It was the lamentable economic illiterate Thatcher who the banks inveigled into cutting the lawful chains which securely bound them. This set them free to plunder the country, making themselves fantastically rich from our collective efforts while increasingly denying us ourselves access to the fruits of our own labours. The bankers are very grateful indeed for her stupidity. That's why she gets this lavish and entirely unecessary attention.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mrs thatcher was very unpopular overseas that i do know so it's most bizarre that anyone from abroad would turn up for the funeral

    Mrs thatcher who i met early on back in the late seventies was a very distant person a very condescending person a very patronizing person not only to someone like myself but to those in her conservative cabinet in which she always spoke to them as (those people)

    I knew first hand she didn't like sick or disabled people i was fit at the time but i also learnt she didn't like the elderly so was very surprised to hear that as i personally did and always have done

    The world is a bad place made worse by the likes of Mrs thatcher and her ideas. Back in the seventies the queen would entertain the likes of Idi Amin etc that to was a very odd as he only had death and destruction on his mind

    I'm afraid that's the uk government always looking for a fight always looking to abuse whoever they feel like and for the very weakest in society like David Cameron's son never a thought be it the Hillsborough disaster or any disaster never a moments thought for the victims and that's always been the case

    Mrs thatcher highlighted the very worst in people her ideas brought out the very worst in people just thank god she no longer is pm as I'm sure she would have provoked the north Korea government to a fight till the death of their country and wiped out the whole of north Korea without a second thought

    As for her funeral tomorrow only those selfish to the core will be in attendance and am glad to say that i know of no one that will be attending

    ReplyDelete
  13. In one of the richest, most technologically advanced societies on the planet, our government of posh-boy millionaires choose policies that will bring suffering and pain to those who can least bear it, those who have no choice but to 'live a life on benefits', those who deserve the respect and support of a thriving welfare state. These policies pursue a sadistic and discriminatory objective, an exercise in cruelty and depravity. Spare bedroom tax? We haven't seen the half of it yet. I predict that they will deny all social security support to anyone who has property of any description. The rich haven't got enough, and they will be coming after our houses. We might have paid our mortgages when we were in work, but as sick and disabled people now, we won't be allowed to live in them...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The rich haven't got got enough, but they never say why.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, 'The rich haven't got enough, but they never say why'. By the way, if Mrs Thatcher was so sure there wasn't such a thing as society, how come her Father was a greengrocer? Was he anti-social? "Oh no, not you again! I suppose you want another cabbage, for gods sake. More potatoes? You irish!"

      Delete
  14. The argument isn't about inheritance though it was argued in the House of Lords that way (I was watching the debate). If you were to disabled you could never worked you were treated as though you had and got any contributory benefits, these are usualy a small top up to the basic. I think my contributory ESA is around £30 per week more.

    Of course it's fair, if they could they would have done the right thing and worked, and got the top up like anyone else.

    The whole argument "that we can't afford it" was sicken to hear lords on no doubt huge incomes argue that our country can't afford the extra few quid a week for people who already face the biggest challenges and deprivation in life is horrific.

    The argument was as cited was based around some totally alien believe that such children would not need extra few quid a week "what if they got an inheritance" maybe on the lords worlds inheritance are handed down they are normal, yes a few would have got if so injured say in a failed birth but vast amount of people would not have.

    It's unlikely many would have seen the money, I worked I get contributory ESA but it gets taken off me to pay towards my care package, as its "extra" ditto my support group premium , severe disability premium and DLA care. But if they were cared for in families that small amount of money makes a huge difference. Hope that helps clear up confusion .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It isn't horrific, it's pathetic! Grown adults with no souls, drinking wine, dreaming of wars and money, sleeping with under-age rent-boys, idolating a dead bitch, but worse, so much worse, persecuting innocent and unassuming people to fulfil some corrupt and demented ideology that WILL NEVER EVER BE FULFILLED!!!

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If you are incensed about this waste of money I hope you will sign and share this petition about Baroness Thatcher's funeral because austerity measures should be shared by everyone, after all 'we are all in it together'.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/uk-parliament-and-government-recover-the-cost-of-margaret-thatchers-funeral-2

    ReplyDelete
  17. I feel physically sick after reading that,am i living in 1780 France or North Korea.Disgusting!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not funny, but as has been said so often, never give a politician too much respect, because they will use your politeness as a weakness and.....well, you know the rest of the story mate.

      Delete
  18. Just fab, well done for this xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think on a day like today we should all remember Karen Sherlock who passed away having been found fit for work but clearly was not

    What i knew of Karen was that she was a good and decent person she represented the complete opposite of Margaret thatcher and what she stood for

    I today have thought of Karen and it was just a pity i was unable to go to her funeral for hers would have been worth going to as she represented the very best in the human spirit and am sure those that knew of her would agree with me

    RIP Karen Sherlock
    http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/rip-karen-sherlock.html

    ReplyDelete
  20. Today's funeral of Mrs thatcher was a little odd in that many who disliked her were in the church and yes they did look a little uncomfortable

    The bottom line is that she leaves a legacy of greed and selfishness and a few other inappropriate weaknesses that will be around for the next 100 years if not longer and that's the over riding real tragedy

    She was always going to be a failure with the sick and disabled as she didn't care much for them she also didn't care much for the elderly as they were expensive

    The world at this time is on a tipping point and with David Cameron in the driving seat it could all be over at any time for anyone with no redress no nothing just a another silent death and no one none the wiser

    we owe it to the very disabled to fight their corner as most of them cant even speak and for a government to bring them into an argument about their benefit entitlement was a very wicked thing to do of which only a group of despots would have done

    Overall today was a very black day and for years to come for many people their suffering in one way or another goes on

    ReplyDelete
  21. George Osborne shown shedding an actual tear with lips a-quiver at the funeral. Really sums it all up.

    ReplyDelete
  22. LightWhiteFeathers your right another very odd moment in politics by George Osborne
    His mentor was indeed Margaret Thatcher and like David Cameron are thatchers children GOD HELPS US

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was only crying for two reasons. One, because he wanted to ask Mrs Thatcher how to squeeze more blood from the tax-payer, but now it is too late for the greedy sad-faced fool. Two, because he couldn't get the cost of Mrs Thatchers wreath put onto his MP expenses account.

      Delete
  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is your post really relevant to the theme of this blog? Can't you piss off somewhere else mate, this isn't an advertising type of site, if case you hadn't noticed, you total p***k.

      Delete
  24. Benefits withdrawal led to man’s suicide
    another death for IDS to deal with when will the killings stop ?
    http://www.gazetteherald.co.uk/news/10360733.Benefits_withdrawal_led_to_man___s_suicide/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So very sad. that death is of much more merit than one of a tyrant ex-PM whose funeral cost taxpayers 10 million quid (half of which was spent on security because they were afraid of incidents from people who hated her).

      But the thing is, this is what IDS, Osborne and Cam are hoping for. All they will see in their minds if they hear about this is a spreadsheet that is a few more pounds in credit.

      Delete
  25. Somebody needs to point out to these people how much projecting they are doing, that is really talking bout themselves rather than the rest of the seriously-disabled unwell population. Sue is right to suggest that each case needs to be assessed individually, because MOST of those kids will never have an inheritance so what the funk are they gonna live on?

    ReplyDelete
  26. this highlights what the conservatives could do at any time. you have to remember that thousands of people have already died so far in the welfare reform process so this is not so far fetched but it is chilling none the less

    you will need to read the full article i will just highlight the chilling outcome

    The Holocaust was one of the most brutal episodes in world history. Steve Paulsson explores the Nazi racial policies that culminated in the extermination of millions of men, women and children.


    The war years

    Concentration camp crematorium being shown to a US soldier ©
    Organised killing began with the outbreak of war in September 1939, but the first victims were not Jews. The Nazis set about killing people with physical and mental disabilities, whom they regarded as a burden on the state and a threat to the nation's 'racial hygiene'. About 170,000 people were eventually killed under this so-called Euthanasia programme, which also pioneered techniques and employed many of the people later used to kill Jews.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/genocide/holocaust_overview_01.shtml


    every single death of a sick and disabled person in which gross negligence was the to blame in going through the welfare reform process should be looked at as a deliberate act of the killing of a vulnerable person in the same way that Hitler killed the sick and disabled

    As although the killings are different with the Hitler approach of direct underhand killing the conservatives are guilty of the killing of innocent and vulnerable by turning a blind eye on those that are carrying out the assessments with the bottom line in that many have died and continue die and with no one like in the Hitler carnage to step in and end the carnage the negligent deaths keep piling up

    and remember that in the first sign of trouble this was the Hitler approach and that was to kill the sick and disabled to save money and like in the UK attrition is taking place with no research whatsoever by the bbc or newspaper in which these vulnerable groups the sick and disabled will end up

    will they end like me a skeleton or will they just die ?
    living as a skeleton is no fun i can tell you as when you see yourself you cant believe your alive so it's very distressing to say the least

    only a very small number in the uk will be able to live with my condition that i do know as it's not only very painful it's also takes hold of your brain as you pray for death every day so it's a illness you need to avoid

    mrs thatcher only ever wonted the power and the trapping of power and she forgot in her thick skull that the greatness of the people of the uk at that time in 1979 were not greedy but she turned them into the selfish breed that we all to clearly see today and in turn the country is very divided on most subjects and with very much regret can never be put right







    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, unfortunately it seems harder for politicians of today to learn from the sad lessons of history than the rest of the world seems able to comprehend. Churchill must be spinning in his grave, "never in the history of mankind, have so few died for so many". I understand that evils of terrorism do not help matters, but show some love and respect to people FFS!!!

      Delete
  27. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first
    comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.
    I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    flights to jeddah

    ReplyDelete
  28. I suspect the whole benefits shake up, is designed to reduce welfare below the poverty line. Its not really claimants money that is being targeted, we are just part of the fallout in the creation of a fear of unemployment in the UK workforce. The pay-off being that these desperate workers will buy extra employment insurance.

    Though it is contested by Insurance giant UNUM, the company did approach MP's as a lobbying group back as far as 2002. A lot of the measures that are being resorted to have roots in UNUM produced plans for the UK welfare system.

    There is a rumour of a tory minister at the highest level recieving a retainer amounting to £750.000 from the companies who would benefit from a move away from subsitance level benefits and the subsequent increase in sellable insurance plans.

    Back when Chris Grayling was the minister for welfare. I tabled two questions during a webcast set up by one of the mental health charities. The first question was is the new benefit system an attempt to push long-term IB claimants onto a lower benefit, through a failed attempt at seeking or mataining employment?

    The other related to the contraqcting of services...I questioned if a company should hold both assessment contracts and unemployment service contracts. For surely was this not a conflict of interest. As medicals would be in essence a means to drum up buisness for the service contract?

    needless to say Chris avoided both prophetical questions and relied on creating a verbal smokescreen with less direct questions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How angry does Chris 'billy no mates' Grayling want us to be i wonder? Angry enough to kill him and be happy? Well, he will surely know when we are angry enough.

      Delete
  29. Dennis Skinner MP condemns Thatcher era
    not much needs to be said other then being spot on and a classic

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVHuxixPJRA

    ReplyDelete