Who’s playing the benefits system? Not my severely anorexic daughter | Elizabeth Wilhide | The Guardian

Some people may find this article hard to believe, but it is what we have seen, time and time again, from the Conservative Government and the DWP under Iain Duncan Smith.

Please share it around. Many people need to understand what is really happening.

Let’s say – for the sake of argument – that you wanted to slash the welfare budget by £12bn while appearing to be fair and even-handed. How would you go about it?

First, you might turn the spotlight on individuals who play the system. Never mind that fraud amounts to only 0.7% of the total expenditure on benefits and tax credits, according to Department for Work and Pensions figures. That inconvenient fact will get drowned out if you make enough noise about cheats and scroungers.

Then, having set the tone of the discourse to blaming and shaming, you’re free to pursue cuts by less visible means. Such as a points system.

This is how it works. You tie benefits to points. Then, you award those points on the basis of what the most vulnerable people in society have to say about their own needs, whether or not they are capable of making such judgments. While you’re at it, ensure that the system remains in constant flux, so that claimants never know exactly where the goalposts are.

My daughter has suffered from a severe mental illness for many years. At times it’s so painful she wants to cut off her own head to shut up the damning voices inside it.

In January this year, another form arrived in the post. As always, she struggled to complete it. Because how can you put the chaos in your head down on paper? In tick boxes? What do the words really mean? And how can you ask for any help when you are certain your needs are utterly bogus? How do you quantify terrifying, destabilising states of mind that change hour by hour, minute by minute?

In April she was informed that her personal independence payment (Pip) had been cut to the lowest rate. She had scored 11 points. To carry on qualifying for the enhanced rate of Pip, which she has previously received, she would have had to score 12.

Put it another way. The loss of that one point has cost her half her Pip, which is about £50 a week. When she isn’t in hospital, my daughter lives in a small room in sheltered accommodation. Most of her things are in store because she has nowhere else to put them. Storage alone costs her £125 a month.

Encouraged by her key worker, she appealed against this decision.

Three months later, she was placed under 24-hour surveillance in an acute medical bay on a locked psychiatric ward.

On 30 August, while she was still in the bay, with three locked doors between her and the outside world, she received a letter from the DWP saying that her appeal had been unsuccessful. It went on to state that if she disagreed with this decision, she could apply to take her case to a tribunal within one month of the date of the letter. The letter was dated 30 July.

To assess eligibility for Pip, the DWP allocates scores based on what it calls descriptors. In their words, these are “sentences which describe how much support, and the type of support, you need. The number of points you get depends on how much help you need.”

My daughter scored 1 (0 is the lowest) for “managing therapy or a health condition”.

She scored 2 for “preparing food” and 4 for “taking nutrition”.

I’d be thrilled if that assessment of her ability to cope with her problems were true. It comes nowhere close.

According to research published last year by Mind, people with mental illnesses are having their benefits cut more often than those with other conditions.

Who’s playing the system?

Source: Who’s playing the benefits system? Not my severely anorexic daughter | Elizabeth Wilhide | Comment is free | The Guardian

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11 thoughts on “Who’s playing the benefits system? Not my severely anorexic daughter | Elizabeth Wilhide | The Guardian

  1. Dez

    Totally disgusting behaviour by these so called government servants. Her Smit should be proud of his new stormtroopers. May they rot in hell for being so unfair in their assessments and scoring which are obviously focused on reducing their budgets and meeting targets which obviously are bonus driven for such behaviour. The only good news is that at least we can keep the bankers enjoying the same level of claret they were always accustomed.

  2. narboroughlad

    The 11 point score seems to be a common result, just one point off the full award.
    I through my job as a mental health nurse in the community working for the NHS have come across several people who have been awarded 11 points. The effect this has had upon their mental well being has been catastrophic, destroying many months of progress that has been made. One in particular got his disability whilst serving his country. I cannot name cases as I fear for my job I am certain that this fills a quota and hits a target. This is sick cruel and inhumane. I fear for the sick and disabled of this country as it moves towards becoming uncivilised.

  3. jamesakirkcaldy

    I would be interested to know if there has been an increase in the incidence of institutionalisation of claimants with poor mental health recently and including over the last Government.

    A think a FOI request is important here and an attempt to track these people once they have passed into these abhorrent institutions. I know in the case of Bradford the Psychiatric hospital is building new wards as part of a scheme to establish a ‘community’ as they phrase it.

    In terms of the wider argument, Mike, that Sue and yourself have made I think this aspect is something to be investigated and FOI made. I don’t have the money to make FOI requests but at least I can draft the letters and fill out the forms.

  4. Tim

    Please please please take this advice…..go to the BENEFITS AND WORK Web site. Follow there advice on filling out your PIP claim form. This gives you an insight into how the DWP score your disability and the way it affects you. NOW……BE HONEST……and SCORE YOURSELF using your WORST DAY SCINARIO! This then put the onus firmly at the DWP’S door as they have to have valid reason to score you differently. Stick to your medical history and BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR CONDITION……the DWP WON’T be able to catch you out if you have been HONEST…. And will not want to go to an APPEAL when it is they that have to explain the reason (s) they see things differently.

  5. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    We often read news stories about claimants cheating the system, and welfare rules assume the criminality of the poor. But what if the reverse was largely true? That the system was in fact the cheat, unfairly stripping claimants of their benefits. Who then punishes welfare departments for their malfeasance?

    I’ve been tweeting: A human rights lawsuit against the DWP should be filed in conjunction with a UN CRPD “grave and systematic” violations finding.

  6. ian725

    Something is very very wrong with society today. We as a nation should never have to put up with this sort of Government. Its High Time we just shouted ” We have had enough of this and WE are not going to take it anymore !!”

  7. John.

    The people playing the welfare system are the profiteering, mercanary vultures being handed lucrative contracts to inflict misery by the camp commandant.
    As someone enveloped by these issues of social attitude engineering, persecution and punishment for being disabled and unfortunate, I’d be more than happy to see the architect destroyed.

  8. shaunt

    For Ian Duncan-Smith, a ‘crimes against humanity’ charge would be very appropriate. And a conviction very appropriate.

  9. JohnDee

    1 in 2 men will get cancer.
    1 in 3 women will get cancer.
    1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year.
    1 in 16 people will get diabetes.
    2.3 million people are living with heart disease and around 2 million people are affected by angina.

    Are YOU one of the UK’s 0.01% elite?

    Then who’s side are YOU on?

    What is WRONG with people who just don’t get it?

    When will the UK sheeple wake up?

Comments are closed.