Archive for November, 2012

please read… we all need to re focus…Dxxx


I was catching up on blogs this morning and came across a question asked by the ever brilliant Tom Pride (i), who wondered whether we are so afraid of the rich, we fail to call them to account; then there was an excellent post by Jim Grundy in Think Left (ii) who wrote about responsibility and denial and the need for honesty and equality.

Both posts caused me to suddenly realise just how overwhelmed I feel; not only by an ever growing amount of evidence, that both demonstrates the appalling state of affairs we find ourselves in, thanks to the Government, and the apparent futility of the numerous campaigns against the majority of the current Government’s Policies.

There were several Comments on Tom’s blog and a much greater number of shares to Facebook & Twitter but interestingly, notwithstanding the 4 fellow bloggers covering the same topic, no one had responded to his question! After my immediate thoughts, that the  omission, indicated…

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Why We’re Not Benefit Scroungers

Press release come guest blog by Aida Aleksia who’s new book will be out soon and here gives you the opportunity to read it in ebook format… Dxxx

Why We’re Not Benefit Scroungers 

Life with chronic illness or disability in modern Britain


New book on what the welfare system is really like for people with disability or chronic illness.

Available for £1 as e-version from 24th September on

Available as print version from 15th December


“General saving is really important to us,” he says. “We are a nation that doesn’t save … We drifted into a culture where consumption was all, and you borrowed to spend … So we change the culture so that you save, you invest and you prepare for the worst. Like we insure our cars, this is basically insuring our lives.”[1]

But what happens to the people who haven’t insured, or can’t afford to insure, their lives?

How well does the safety net that is the welfare system catch people whose health is no longer good enough to support work?


This book seeks to answer these questions, by complementing the stories of nine disabled people with an analysis of the welfare system.

The stories reveal a country that continues to present multiple barriers for people with chronic illness or impairment.  From lack of access to education, work or society to a lack of support from the benefits system, Britain still routinely fails some of the people who most need her help, who are least able to help themselves when required by circumstances to cope with sub-standard health.

Some of the figures given in this book include:

  • 67% of benefit expenditure goes to pensioners
  • More money is spent on health and on education than on benefits for people of working age
  • For health-related benefits, more money is spent on errors made by officials than on fraud
  • Reports of claimants’ health made by government-contracted medical professionals routinely contain inaccuracies and/or bear little resemblance to the individual concerned
  • Only 28% of people judged fit for work by the Government are in employment 12-18 months later
  • Up to 60% of disabled people live in poverty

The stories include:

  • Alan was doing well as a truck driver before a rare illness almost left him paralysed
  • Danni has struggled to complete education with repeated operations and complications from spina bifida
  • Fin couldn’t complete a degree as blindness coupled with hard-to-use computer software made the work almost impossible
  • Henny lives in a residential care home but has struggled to cope with autism as funding cuts meant staff no longer gave the same quality of care


Why We’re Not Benefit Scroungers was written by Stef Benstead, known as Aida Aleksia on Twitter and Facebook.  More information can be found on her website,

[1] Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Wooding Green, and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.  In The Telegraph, Iain Duncan Smith: I’m not afraid to light the fuse on disability reform, 13th May 2012, Robert Winnett

Hi All, time for another guest post this is regarding the coming PIP regulations FibroGirl, and 500,000 disabled people are  asking for your help… Dxxx

A call to arms – PIP needs you

I was moved to roll up my campaigning sleeves late in 2011 when I finally dipped my toes in the water of twitter and followed the bread crumbs to see what was happening. Until that point I felt alone with my struggles.

The endless forms, justifying myself and my illness, learning to live with the fact I would never again be able to work or even plan more than a day ahead and even that was good going. Dealing with the loss of ME And watching my loved ones adjusting to this person who now had to walk with a stick that lead on to a wheelchair and some days never getting out of bed.

I was one lone voice lost in a wilderness and I found through the Spartacus campaign, and getting involved gave me hope. It also gave me a purpose again.

I well remember the collective swell of pride and excitement as the Spartacus report went to print and Lord Frued and his cronies panicked, giving more ground than it was ever thought possible.

Its impossible to sustain that energy, like any long term campaign it ebbs and flows. But once again its time to get stuck in – the summer has seen ESA and the dreaded work capability tests and scrounger rhetoric being challenged, pushing the politicians to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s been quiet on the PIP front since we all worked so hard to get the consultation work in.

Now my friends it’s a call to arms, the PIP regulations go back to Parliament very soon, the new disability minister says before the Christmas recess – The sly tactics adopted by Maria Miller have been taken up by Esther McVey.

Avoiding going before the Work and Pensions select committee   Esther McVey letter

But telling them she plans to publish the government’s response on the SAME day as the secondary regulations are laid before parliament. In other words giving us no time to analyse them or effectively lobby our Mps and Lords before hand.

On top of this it has come to light that the government has reneged on another promise to release the 5000 responses to the initial consultation the one PIP is based on – Maybe they thought we would go away if they stayed quiet for long enough… Well I for one don’t plan to stay quiet.

I decided to write this template letter in response to Sue marsh’s request about the initial PIP consultation responses.

Attached is the link to the letter I’m sending to my MP – feel free to use it. MP template letter

Join with me and lets show this government that we have not gone silent or forgotten just how much our collective power is worth. We wont get it repealed but we can and must force them to give as much ground as possible for the sake of the 500,000 and rising who will loose out, it could be me or you.


To find your MP’s contact details follow this link

Recently the We Are Spartacus Community released the Peoples Review if the WCA (Work Capability Assessment) it contained many harrowing accounts of how genuinely sick and disabled people where being denied ESA ( Employment Support Allowance).  Exposing the ritual humiliation and dehumanising process that is WCA.

Well as if that wasn’t bad enough the same thing has been happening to those applying for DLA (Disability Living Allowance)

Here i put forward another account of the same dehumanising and blatantly ignorant process that is becoming a rival to the WCA and appeal system the DLA application an appeals process… both of which are lengthy exhausting demoralising…

One woman’s story in her own words about her experience of applying for DLA in a letter she wrote to her MP…

Dear Steve Gilbert

I’m writing asking for help for the vulnerable and sick in your area,including my own family.
I worked for 18 years in your constituency but now I am unable to work because of my chronic illnesses. I have Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. These were triggered by the traumatic birth of my daughter ,now 5.It took a long time to get a diagnoses after being fobbed off as being depression for 4 years. After my diagnoses in June 2011 I was told that I needed to get some help. In October 2011 I applied for disability allowance after struggling for a long time without claiming the benefits I was entitled for. I was refused as I expected. I went to appeal in May 2012 at Plymouth Tribunal Centre and was awarded low rate care but I was told by the appeal court that I should get a doctors letter to confirm my deterioration of my conditions as I was now eligible for the mobility element. I did as instructed stating what the appeal court said and enclosed a doctors letter. I was refused again ,as expected, I went to appeal again last Friday at Pydar House Truro.
On Friday I went into my appeal hearing with my husband. As soon as I entered the room in my electric wheelchair one of the panel started tutting. I later found out she was the doctor. To cut a long story short I was treated like an animal. The Doctor kept asking me what exercise I did. I kept explaining that I have chronic fatigue. She kept saying,  “Yes I realise you get tired”. I don’t know what research she has done but Chronic fatigue if far more than tired. It takes me over an hour to dress then I’m so fatigued I need to sleep again. I crawl up our stairs due to the pain of the fibromyalgia. I use a wheelchair while out and crutches or sticks inside. If I didn’t use a wheelchair I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere or care for my family. If I do walk a short distance one day I wouldn’t be able to leave bed for days or weeks following but according to this tribunal that isn’t a detrimental effect to my health. The disability advisor and the doctor kept arguing so the lawyer had to keep intervening. They started interrogating my husband about his disability,he has young onset Parkinson’s. He was only there to support me. They asked personal questions and when I answered honestly they laughed and said  “it cant be that bad”. Well, I’m sorry they thought my answers were funny but it definitely isn’t funny when we have a five year old and a 3 year old we are trying to care for as well as each other. This interrogation went on for an hour and a quarter. By the end of that time I was getting so confused that I was having trouble answering their questions and was getting extremely fatigued. After telling me I should get out of my wheelchair,join a gym and walk everywhere, I was asked to leave while they made a decision. While we waited outside we could hear laughing and talking. I went back in for my decision(my husband couldn’t face going in there again). I was told that I could not get the mobility element because I can walk 100 meters,it didn’t matter what effect this would have on me. This appeal couldn’t have been more different than the Plymouth tribunal where I was treated with dignity and respect.
Yes, I know that some people abuse the benefit system but under the governments own statistics most are not trying to claim DLA/ESA.My husband and my self have always worked since leaving school. My husband was in the Military before then going into nursing. I was a joiner for 18 years. We both do voluntary work alongside youth work in our Local church when our disability’s allow and always have done along side our work. We didn’t choose to become ill. We had our children before our disabilities became apparent. We were bought up to care for those in need and to protect the vulnerable. It looks like this government does not accept those principles. I dint know what you can do,if anything but I need my local representative in the Government to know what’s going on, on your own doorstep. The disabled cannot go on like this. Some have died before they have got to their appeal. Most of us fear brown envelopes dropping onto our door mat. We no longer expect good news,we expect bad. Some cant take anymore rejection and end their own lives or die from the illnesses that the department of work and pensions have said they can actually work with. This is not acceptable in our modern world, what’s next extermination camps for the sick and disabled.
What are you going to do about it?
Yours Sincerely
Mrs CR

There are many thousands more stories just like this one… maybe ill bring you some more…

When will the Government recognise that a process that was designed to weed out fraud has actually become a way to punish the sick and disabled? And what are we punishing them for? you ask,  Well for being sick and disabled of course. Like it’s actually a choice to have your hopes and dreams ripped from you, to never have the career you worked for or the children you long for or to simply be able to have the independence and dignity that others take for granted…

Ignorance is no excuse! This Government needs to learn we have our own power and… We call for change!

So Say We All… Dxxx

If you would like to share your DLA experience feel free to contact me…

Hi Folks just a quickie today… family permitting… 🙂

Just to let you know the We Are Spartacus Community have released another report this one is all about the realities of the Work Capability Assessment, and how those who are being assessed, are cooping with that reality… this is a peoples review, it’s not written by academics who are out side the process this is written by claimants of sickness benefits about their experience of the WCA… Please find the time to give it a read it’s a real eye opener…

If you ever thought what’s all the fuss about this report will answer those questions… thanks… Dxxx



Great blog… as a mum with a child who has communication issues i find this proposed cut very worrying… Cornwall has a similar problems…Dxxx

Disability in Furness

I have heard some shocking things about this county of ours but what I have heard just now about the future of speech therapy in Cumbria has really made myself and other parents livid.

Most of the parents I speak to haven’t seen hide nor hair of a speech and language therapist or if they do it’s very rarely. A few have what you might call regular sessions and they value them greatly. My point is that they are already a scarce resource here in Furness. And they are about to become endangered it would seem!

The county is holding a speech and language review, very likely resulting in compulsory redundancies, probably targeting the most experienced therapists and regrading of remaining staff. This will increase workloads on an already stretched service, as well as increase waiting times for diagnosis and statementing and will seriously hinder the implementation of the Government’s…

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It seems that the sick are to be subjected to more conditionality to receive sickness benefit.

The government plan to announce a new 25 million  trial scheme (could they not think of better things to spend that much on?), possibly targeting alcohol and drug addicts. The scheme will force those on sickness benefit to accept treatment or loose their benefit, in a similar way as Job Seekers Allowance conditionality does. It seems a reasonable idea on the surface, but if it gets rolled out country and condition wide where will it stop…

When do you draw the line between refusal of treatment and treatment choice? For example many thousands choose to treat their health with diet or homeopathic medicine, will that be acceptable?

What will happen if you disagree with the diagnosis? Will you have to endure treatment for an illness you dont believe you have in order to get you benefit?

The crux of the matter for me is the freedom to choose, as a person with Fibromyalgia and CFS, I am very anti the idea that my health is caused by my emotional state… (CBT) which by the way is wrathful at the moment… I am not an emotional wreck… in fact I’m pretty stable for a woman who’s partner has recently been diagnosed with cancer… but that’s another story…

I object to the notion that, this government thinks, medical choices for long term addiction and illness is all about the patients refusal of treatment. In thousands if not millions of cases the lack of treatment of a medical condition is about lack of resources, resources continually cut by the very same government. Compounded often by neglectful policy handed down by the government that leads to lack of treatment. For example Fibro is not to be treated by Physio because it cant cure it, no it cant but the physio or body work as its termed in the USA is very effective at limiting the effects of Fibro and making it less debilitating.

Addictions are as much about mental health as they are about the chemicals and damage to the system, so are they going to re fund a sector of our heath service, that they so recently stripped so effectively, Mental Health provision is on the verge of collapse, will they refund it so it can cope with an influx of clients seeking help to conform to their health benefit conditionality? I very much doubt it! They will hire a subsidiary of UNUM the USA’s second most disparaged heath care company or ATOS also equally disparaged, to asses people as well… job done…

Additionally as the NHS get overwhelmed with millions queuing up to full fill their conditionality, the government will have another example of why a privatised health service will be beneficial… not…

Personally I hope this comes back to bite them, I hope all the MS sufferers and Cancer sufferer’s that are being refused drugs because of cost, sue this government for not allowing them to meet their health benefit conditionality by refusing treatment based on COST…




This man is very worrying…Dxxx

the void

Iain Duncan Smith  launched an astonishing attack on step-parents, single parents and LGBT couples this week in a move that could see welfare to work sharks brought into the family home and even the bedroom.

Speaking at a conference on social justice, the Secretary of State warned that in future the proportion of children no longer living with the same parents from birth would be a new government measure to monitor the growth of ‘social problems’.

His comments came after research revealed that half of 15 year olds live with both parents.  This is hardly a surprising statistic in world where people are no longer trapped into loveless, or even abusive relationships, in order to avoid the stigma that came with being divorced, a step-parent, in a gay or lesbian relationship or a single parent.

Iain Duncan Smith included children growing up with step-parents in a list of social…

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Intresting blog and something I have been thinking about also. We need to be represented if our voice is to be heard…Dxxx

Think Left

Parliament of the People?

Every day we hear stories of anger and despair, people destitute, dying, as a result of governments refusing to address the ever widening rift between the rich, and the rest of us, with the numbers falling into deep poverty rising alarmingly. Whether we classify ourselves as working class, middle-class, or just ordinary people, there is no doubt that in comparison with periods in history, the collective people have found a voice. Education, science and technology have provided us with tools of communication never seen before.

There are a number of ways we can make our opinions and needs understood today. We can communicate around the world in seconds. Tweeters, bloggers, marchers – we can all make our voices heard. We can write to newspapers who may decide to publish. The BBC may be selective in what is broadcast, but in comparison with agricultural workers or the…

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