Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rage Against The Machine

Thanks ever so much for your support, guys. It's really great to have people who understand my frustrations, who I can talk to without feeling I'm letting the side down and at the same time give objective advice instead of drowning me in tea and sympathy. Much appreciated.

Yesterday was a wipe-out and today is going to be rough because I have a bump on my head. It’s bad enough getting random bruises everywhere, but I woke up yesterday morning and felt a sharp twinge when I turned my head quickly. When I felt my head there was a tender lump an inch or so behind my ear.

I once developed a black-eye in my sleep, but I did have a good idea as to how I attained it. The bump has no logical explanation, Captain. Unfortunately, whilst mildly distracting yesterday, it has wrecked my sleep. The pain has kind of spread into the muscles of my neck and I can’t get comfortable. A new version of not being able to get comfortable.

Never mind, the Benefits Agency kindly phoned up in order to give me an entity to transfer my frustrations onto. I'm not in trouble, it's just I'm not allowed to do anything such as write any more articles I am paid for from now on for the next eighteen months. Why? Well, in summary because it's not conducive to getting me into full-time employment. Severely disabled people (their definition) either can work, in which case they can be eased into full time employment (although one wonders how they qualified as incapacitated in the first place), or they are compelled to do nothing. What’s more, I have to put my intentions (i.e. to do what I have to do) in writing and they’re hassling me for not filling in a form that I didn’t think applied to me.

Now what was that rhetoric about giving opportunities to disabled people? Uh, no. Opportunities for those disabled people who really ought not to have been on incapacity-related benefits in the first place, maybe. Jobcentre Plus isn’t a rehabilitative program. Of course there are arguably a group of disabled people who would be able to work if certain fears are addressed, support given and flexibility applied – but these things ought to have happened much earlier, these folks were never actually incapacitated for work by ill health and impairment, only prevented from working by inadequate provision.

The rules that are effecting me are actually meant for those people who are up to holding down a part-time job but can do no more. After six months, you must either stop or carry on with a view to increasing your hours to full-time (which you have an extension of six months to do). I wrote a single article, which counted as four weeks work, but initiated this six month countdown as if I was doing this constantly.

It’s irritating that this counts for me, because I am penalised for occasional work like this and as I say, it’ll be another eighteen months until I’m allowed to do it again. Add to this, the irony that actually folks on Incapacity Benefit and SDA can earn up to twenty quid a week for an indefinite period. And because I am on Income Support, I was only allowed to keep twenty quid for every week I ‘worked’ anyway. However, even if I had just done six months’ part-time work and got to keep every penny (up to £78 a week), this still wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

Incapacity Benefit and SDA are not means-tested benefits - you qualify even if you're stinking rich and have a healthy income from another source such as a private pension. So what’s wrong with allowing people in these circumstances the opportunity to increase their quality of life and contribute to the economy?

These are people who very often will not work again because their conditions are never going to get better and are very often going to get worse. But debilitating as that is, this doesn’t mean that they are rendered totally useless, nor do they automatically lose the desire to maintain some level of self-sufficiency and participation in society.


Anonymous said...

I suspect you've been attacked by Lady Bracknell's poltergeist, Goldfish. Tiring of hurling things through her windows, he's taken to sconcing you while akip. Who's next I wonder?

This writing embargo seems nuts. If they want/expect you to go on to full-time employment, how can you acquire a cv and a portfolio if you're not allowed to write professionally (ie get paid for it) at all? These rules are loony.

imfunnytoo said...

Our rules here aren't the same, but "loony" applies here too.

we have nine months to "trial work" (not necessarily consecutively) unless of course sometime during the nine months the Social Security Admin declares us "no longer disabled, " since we're working and then they can just stop, period.

Anonymous said...

I think it is because they (Hauptamt StaatsSicherheit), found you more than a compotent columnist, and as such you should be working for a newspaper/magazine!

You are a great source of wit and wisdom Deborah.

I once worked in the 'therapeutic work' category. It was a nightmare. I lost money, time and my patience. So much paper trouble and all to help out somepeople, Bah!

If you need to send out publicity photo's and need those bumps and bruises hiding I am yer man.


The Goldfish said...

Pete - Good to see you around. Thanks for your kind words and I shall certainly keep you in mind if ever I wish to conceal my bumps. I have been very impressed with your work for your various blogging clientele. :-)