The tide is turning as blind benefit claimant’s tale provokes backlash against DWP

Hazel MacRae from Walker, who has been told she is fit to work despite being blind, epileptic and suffering from osteoarthritis [Image: Newcastle Chronicle].

The Tories are going to have to find a new narrative, as it seems the “workshy” angle has stopped working.

Readers of at least one local newspaper reacted angrily to the Department for Work and Pensions’ decision to make a blind woman, who has diabetes, epilepsy and osteoarthritis, look for work.

This Site’s own Facebook page has received a few pertinent comments after I put the story up on Vox Political.

Susan Fairweather wrote: “In a decent society not only would this lady get all benefits she is entitled to but she would have extra funding to improve her quality of life – such as entitlement to a guide dog without having to rely on charity and waiting for years. What type of job could she do, realistically? These ‘assessors’ are criminals.”

Jackie Motti added: “ANOTHER unfair and tragically unnecessary case of abuse and discrimination which will make this poor lady’s health worse…. shameful (for normal people with hearts…. Tories don’t have them) bless everyone in this position and hopefully this bloody awful government will collapse very soon! The real SCROUNGERS are banks, landlords, tax avoiders and the like …. and the bloody MPS themselves!”

Here’s Kathleen Garrett: “Disgraceful and inhumane. The tories have manipulated the system and the people of Britain into believing it’s our poor and vulnerable that are to blame for austerity. They have distracted us from the real culprits. The rich and the downright greedy who don’t pay any taxes into our system but take from it. Shame on us.”

Simon Balfre wrote: “The Conservative Party and the media have created this insane idea that welfare recipients are a drain on the economy.

“Do welfare recipients hold onto their money and keep it out of circulation? Of course they don’t, they can’t afford to. Every penny of the pittance they receive goes back out again.

“It’s the obscenely wealthy who siphon off millions into off shore tax havens, and find all manner of ways to avoid paying tax, who are the real drain on the economy.

“And I’m not the only one who has figured this out.”

He’s not – This Writer has been saying it on This Site for a considerable period of time!

But Tracey Kay warned: “There are still too many people who think benefits are a lifestyle choice. Who would like to be targeted incessantly for the crime of having a disability or illness? It can happen to any of us at any time and the way the tories are ‘reforming’ the system there will soon be no safety net left for any of us.”

A decision to deem a blind, house-bound 62-year-old ‘fit for work’ has been branded “absolutely shameful” by Chronicle readers.

Hazel Macrae, who also suffers from epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis, was claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – until she was told she has “limited capacity for work”.

Her benefits were slashed by £15 and she was told she would be trained to find a job – even though she can’t leave the house by herself and isn’t able to make a cup of tea.

Brian Lewis said: “I’m all for disabled people making the best of a poor situation but the DWP need to get a grip and use some common sense here, what realistically can Hazel do for a sustainable job?”

Sandra Weaver said: “Absolutely shameful. As if the poor woman hasn’t got enough to worry about. Who are these people making these decisions? It’s disgusting.”

Sheilagh Barlow said: “Where is the DWP’s accountability? They cause so many people great distress that it’s totally unacceptable.

“The staff aren’t trained, they only train them to use a computer so when they don’t put in the correct information they get the wrong answer out!”

Many laid the blame firmly at the feet of the current Conservative government.

Daniel Gallagher said: “Look how people are targeting the “lazy work shy” instead of looking at the multi national corporations that don’t pay tax or the banks that got us into this mess in the first place.”

He added: “The Tories want us to blame each other but in actual fact the blame lies firmly at their feet.”

And some spoke of their own struggles appealing against similar decisions.

Natasha Barrett said: “The assessment process is a complete joke. The appeals process is very long and drawn out.

“I hope this lady doesn’t have to wait a year as I did. It also hurts to think that people don’t believe you when there is medical evidence from highly qualified consultants etc to back it up. Very, very sad to read.”

In spite of everything, the DWP still managed to be defiant in the service of its Tory masters. This is staggering ignorance:

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said many blind people and those over 60 can be supported back into work with training.

Source: ‘Absolutely shameful’: Readers react as blind, housebound 62-year-old deemed ‘fit for work’ – Chronicle Live

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8 thoughts on “The tide is turning as blind benefit claimant’s tale provokes backlash against DWP

  1. Christine Cullen

    Even the heartless Mail is featuring this lady and reading the reader responses it is shock/horror that this government could do such a thing from most. Yeh, well! Who was it that voted for them?

  2. STEVEN McGuire

    What this woman went through is a disgrace to society After the tory conferance all tha parasite Tories could talk about was the leader parasites cold and cough This is why the Great has been took out of Britain

  3. Brian

    Simon Balfre could have written:
    “ welfare recipients have created this sane idea that The Conservative Party and the media are a drain on the economy”.

  4. Jeffrey Davies

    are they now awakening from their slumber the party who burn the rule books took to the media with the words work makes you better those famous gates while culling the stock through benefit denial nah they still talking in the house of ill repute about it strange while they talk more will feel the hands of this government and many die just giving up jeff3

  5. wildswimmerpete

    One factor the Tories conveniently forget is the problem of insurance. All employers have to have compulsory employee insurance and anyone trying to employ someone like Hazel will find their insurers will come back with a big “NO”?

    The situation with workfare is different. Many are forced into dirty, dangerous and unpleasant work for, say, recycling outfits. The firm’s insurance (assuming they actually have insurance cover) don’t cover workfare slaves as they are technically employed by the DWP. Do DWP insure those on workfare? What do you think? DWP has Crown Immunity.

  6. Sandy

    Surprisingly, the Mail Online ran this story yesterday. Just as surprising were the comments BTL, approx 300. They were overwhelmingly in support of the woman and appalled at her treatment by the DWP. I also noticed that those few commentators that were negative towards this woman’s situation received way more red arrows than green ones.

    I’ve just gone back to the Mail Online website to get a link for the Mail’s article about this woman. Surprise, Surprise! It’s been pulled.
    I suspect it’s been pulled because the BTL comments did not suit the Mail’s agenda of benefit scroungers, etc.

    I believe that the above is a good indication that if the MSM had reported on such stories regarding the unfair and atrocious behavior of the DWP and their minions (ATOS, Maximus, Capita, etc) as much as they had on the benefits scrounger/cheats
    narative then the DWP would never have been able to get away with their so-called ‘reforms’.
    I believe this because I think most people are decent, fair minded and compassionate… even Mail readers! But if people don’t know about such things en mass then how can they protest or show their disapproval?
    They certainly did show horrified disapproval BTL on this story in the Mail. No wonder the mail pulled the story after just one day, possibly even less as I read the story about 10pm last night.

  7. Vinaigrette Girl

    What about blind *and* epileptic *and* osteoarthritic *and* 62 *and* diabetic do they not understand?

  8. foggy

    “A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said many blind people and those over 60 can be supported back into work with training.”

    Has anyone FOI’d the DWP for the figures of blind people that have had training from the DWP and are now in sustainable employment since 2010 ? (by sustainable I mean a good wage to be able to live on without going to the foodbanks, having to have loans/ go into debt etc to be able to live !) This will more than likely disprove their above statement.

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