Isn’t this the Conservative government turning the screw on people with disabilities – and on parents – yet again?
People could be forced to take on work that places their health at risk or face losing their benefits as the government’s suspension to job-seeking requirements for benefit claimants is set to come to an end within days.
The government announced in March that the requirement for people receiving universal credit to prove that they are looking for work – which would currently apply to more than 2 million people on the benefit – would be paused for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This suspension is set to end next Tuesday, meaning millions of people will need to prove they are actively seeking work or face being sanctioned and losing their financial support.
Charities are concerned that people who are shielding or suffer from underlying health conditions would face an “uphill struggle” to find suitable work – and may potentially accept jobs that place their health at risk in order to avoid benefit sanctions.
There are also mounting concerns that ongoing disruption to schools and childcare options mean people may need to care for their children during the time they could otherwise spend working or applying for jobs, which could result in them being sanctioned.
It’s a classic double-bind.
Either people with disabilities put their health – possibly their lives – at risk in work that could even lead to their deaths…
Or they forfeit their chance to get state benefits, putting their health – possibly their lives – at risk.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Hazel MacRae from Byker, who has won her case against the DWP [Image: Newcastle Chronicle].
Well done, everyone who kicked up a fuss about the unfair and farcical decision to find Hazel MacRae fit for work.
The DWP has reversed its decision in an unusually hasty about-face. Was the publicity getting a bit rough, guys?
The joy of it is that people still aren’t letting this go. Check out some of the comments on the Chronicle story detailing the happy news:
Here’s Longsufferingfan: “This is not an unusual occurrence, about 60% + of people who are rejected win on appeal. the System is set up to reject people and hope that they don’t appeal. It needs overhauling but so far the Govt are happy with the way it is performing as it works in their favour!”
And Ruiseart adds: “This woman is just one of many, many thousands of people who the government has directed the DWP and the assessment companies to declare “fit for work” in an attempt to save money on the welfare bill.
“Examining the figures shows that had they left every person they declared “fit” alone, and not tried to deny their disabilities, they would have spent £millions LESS!
“The whole assessment regime is designed to fail the people the DWP is supposed to be helping and it should be scrapped and the people behind it should be hauled up before a court and charged with MULTIPLE MURDER!”
Feel free to add your own observations, here or on the Chronicle‘s site.
Blind and epileptic Hazel MacRae has won her appeal after a public outcry was sparked when she was deemed ‘fit for work’.
The 62-year-old received the good news on Wednesday after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) performed a u-turn.
Hazel’s fight made headlines across the country after the Chronicle revealed how she had been classed as fit for work despite being blind since birth and suffering with epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis.
But that decision has now been reversed, and Hazel, of Walker, could not be happier.
She said: “I can’t thank the Chronicle enough for their help . The support I have been getting is fantastic.”
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.
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 future will be bleak for Hazel MacRae. While the Tories vow they are doing everything to make their murderous ‘benefit’ system fair, they are taking money away from her and trying to force her to find a job she can’t do.
Will she be able to survive on the reduced amount now available to her? The Tories don’t care.
Will she be able to find a job? Absolutely not, because firms simply would not spend money on adaptations for a disabled person who is unlikely to last very long in a job. The Tories don’t care.
Will she be stricken by the usual problems that afflict benefit claimants who are attacked by the Tory system – despair, mental ill-health, suicidal tendencies? Probably. The Tories don’t care.
If she doesn’t survive, the Tories will deny responsibility and enjoy the benefit saving. They consider her to be a “useless eater” and are probably looking forward to her becoming another statistic for their policy of chequebook euthanasia.
It’s all about money with the Tories, you see. They want it all, and don’t care who they take it from or how badly they will be harmed.
Blind since birth and stricken by a string of disabilities but told she is fit to work – this is the reality of Government benefit cuts.
Hazel Macrae, who also suffers from epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis, was claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and was told she’d have to undertake a back to work assessment.
The 62-year-old filled in a questionnaire explaining she’s unable to leave her home without the help of her partner or son because she is afraid of falling, can’t use a pen or pencil, telephone, and would be unable to “move safely” in a workplace.
She was also required to meet with a health professional in Gosforth to undergo a face-to-face assessment where she was asked a series of questions about her daily activities.
Echoing the award-winning Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake – which was shot in Newcastle – Miss Macrae has been told she has “limited capability for work” and her ESA has been moved from the Support Group to Work Related Activity Group, and reduced by £15 per fortnight.
She said: “They think they can support me back into work but I can’t do it. There are no jobs that I can do.
“They have said that I can use my hands and I’m expected to apply for all jobs going… I can’t even make a cup of tea myself because of the boiling water.”
This man receives more than £150,000 from the state per year, and is warning other obese people to lose weight or lose benefits. Looks like he’s desperate to lose his own when they come up for review in May!
The Conservative Party seems determined to sink itself into the deepest, blackest hole ever created by a political organisation for itself.
While other parties unveil attractive policies designed to bring voters onboard, the Tories have said they want to remove benefits from people they have decided are fat. Here’s the Independent story, and for good measure we’ll throw in the BBC‘s coverage too.
You might be thinking to yourself, why not? They’ve already attacked people on Jobseekers’ Allowance, ESA and DLA as scroungers; they’ve pushed pensionable ages back by years; and they’re about to attack people who are on pensions, already. Why not continue proving what a bunch of spoiled little schoolboys they are by picking on fatties as well (oh, along with druggies and alkies)?
Perhaps because, as ‘Neti’ pointed out on Twitter: “Medication can mean that people gain weight and not be overeating.”
Exactly so. It seems the Tories are spoiling for a fight with the British Medical Association which, in 2013, said calls by Tory-held Westminster Council to cut the benefits of overweight people who refused exercise regimes were “draconian”.
Here’s another voice from Twitter – John Wight: “Tories now attacking obese and others on sickness benefit. Another wheeze designed to appeal to smug middle classes.”
Quite. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the policy has been announced by David Cameron, himself no stranger to a large meal.
… Or drink.
“It is not fair to ask hardworking taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work,” he said.
Fair enough. So if Cameron can’t slim down by May 7, we’ll know that he doesn’t want the support of our public money any more and he wants to go back to a life of work.
His career was in public relations, unless the memory cheats.
It seems likely he may have blown his chances of going back there.
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