ESA, WRAG And The DWP’s Cunning Plans

Most of the search terms that bring people to this blog are based on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and people wondering what to expect once they are given the benefit (ESA) and sent to the work program.

As I am unable to write about me at the moment I thought it would be a good opportunity to enlighten people to the idea behind this program and the genius that is Iain Duncan Smith’s plans for the long term unemployed, especially those of us on sickness benefits.

It is really quite simplistic and can best be explained in the following 7 words

IF THEY CAN FUCK YOU, THEY WILL

Sadly that is the stark reality, if by some miracle you make it through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and are placed into the work program you will made to feel like such scum that eventually you will do something that results in the DWP/ Job Centre sanctioning you and losing your benefits.

The providers of the work program take nothing into account when it comes to your mental health, your needs and requirements. When I attended Seetec I offered them advise on how to help people with anxiety, they were having group meetings with 20+ people and one lady there had a panic attack. I spoke to the manager of the centre and suggested to them that they have one of the empty rooms in the building available as a place for people to go if things were getting too much for them. I may as well have asked them to wipe my arse with bread and make a sandwich out of it based on the reaction, and subsequent lack of anything being done.

What they will do is make you attend workshops whereby the best option they can suggest is to become self employed, nearly every session I attended they tried to force me onto this workshop. I sat in on one to listen to the wonderful success stories they could provide us with, the tales of how many people they have got back into employment….. forgive me while I go and repair my sarcasm detector which just exploded…

The biggest success story that they could tell us about was a couple they got off of benefits who now did Car Boot Sales for a living… oh yes that weekend tradition of selling off crap for pittance.. which of course can only be done during the summer months assuming that it has not been pissing down with rain the night before…..

If you are given any appointments to attend work program providers, do not expect any help if you are unable to make it. They will simply mark you down as not attending and will inform the job centre where you will most likely be sanctioned, and not even notified about the sanction until after your money has been stopped.

Attend everything they ask, grin and bare it because the big plan of the DWP and IDS is to make you come off benefits by hook or by crook. If you simple say “fuck it” and give up the benefits all that matters to them is that in the media they can proudly state that x amount of people are not claiming benefits anymore.

We are not people with feelings, illnesses, ailments we are simply scroungers to be put through as many hoops as possible, and sadly too many of us cannot cope with this treatment and lives are lost – which again results in propaganda statements about people coming off benefits.

The media are hardly going to say “55000 people are no longer claiming benefits, because they have taken their lives due to the DWP/IDS killing machine”

The worse thing about all of this is that it will only get worse, zero hour contracts will become the norm and the MP’s will continue to get pay rises…. and a change of government will make little difference. The next stage is that we are expected to spend 37.5 hours a week looking for jobs, if we cant get a decent paying full time job they will expect us to take multiple part time jobs to make up the difference, and we will be forced to sign up to a website that is full of fake jobs and scams….

Naturally as we are British and have a stiff upper lip we will continue to hold our ankles and take it…

 

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Pearls of Wisdom from DWP

I had an early night last night. Went to bed at 10 to watch The Godfather part 2 and fell asleep not long after and before I knew it I was awake at the crack of a sparrows fart!

Sometimes I enjoy waking up and watching the night turn into day, especially if there is a nice sunrise – I find it kind of symbolic in a “it’s a new dawn” kind of way.

The past few days since my last post have been pretty great. I seem to have a new found confidence and feeling of optimism that has been missing for a long time and I wake up each morning looking forward to the day as opposed to waking up tired and miserable. I must admit I like the way I am feeling at the moment and just up it lasts!

Yesterday I received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with an update on the housing benefit changes that will soon come into force. Not only did they bring me the good news that they estimate I will have to find £50 a week to cover the rent but they also came up with some rather helpful suggestions for dealing with the decrease in housing benefit.

  1. Ask your landlord for a reduction in the cost of your rent!
  2. move into cheaper accommodation
  3. get a job and claim working tax credit

speechless? yes I was too when I read this. I can just imagine the laughter from landlords up and down the country as millions of people now ring them up and ask for cheaper rent! naturally they are all going to say yes and make the rent cheaper for us.

Here is an example of what will happen:

me: Hi Home group the DWP suggested I should ring you and request you decrease my rent as my housing benefit is no longer covering the full amount.

home: HA HA HA HA tell the DWP to go fuck themselves with that suggestion!

or words to that affect.

me: Hi Redbridge council, the DWP suggest I should move into cheaper accommodation

Redbridge: what? your already over occupied in your tiny flat as it is so there is no way we can move you into anything smaller and therefor cheaper. Besides your on the waiting list for a BIGGER property. Tell the DWP to go fuck themselves with that suggestion.

you get the drift.

It must be nice to live in the same world as government officials and agencies where no doubt unicorns fart rainbows and Iain Dickhead Smith is considered as a thoroughly nice man!

Add to this the new council tax bill that has been received and it all seems like the government is working hard to piss me off at the moment, but they won’t bring me down.

Yesterday I even went and joined the gym across the road from my flat. The exercise on referral scheme has inspired me to get back on track with losing weight. I was measure across my stomach and it was a staggering 46 inches! I need to do something about this. When I was asked what my goals were for the exercise scheme my reply was “to see my penis when I look down!” somewhat tongue in cheek but would be nice to actually feel confident about how I look for a change.

Now I just need to get my ass into the gym especially as my 10k run is 2 months away!

Speaking of my 10k run on 27th May who is coming to meet me at the finish line? Would be great to have some people cheering me on (or carrying the stretcher) especially if you all bring a big mac each cos I will need to eat something 😀

Atos/DWP Update

So two weeks after my medical to determine how ill I really am I have finally received a letter from the DWP regarding the medical.

Read here for more about my dealing with Atos, despite all the negative publicity about them I can only speak based on my experience with them and my advice to anyone due to have a medical would be to ignore everything you read because it will only make you ill from stress! Go into the medical with an open mind and be 100% honest about how you feel and how your illness affects your daily life.  Don’t assume anything will count for or against you just reveal everything!

It is also vital that your GP is kept fully up to date of any conditions you have that you may not have mentioned to them. For example it was 4 months after my depression diagnosis that I finally revealed the extent of my IBS condition and this was vital to my medical.

The good news is that I passed my medical which means that I am officially recognised as being too ill to be forced to work. The relief of this is immense because the stress of appealing, living on 0 benefits etc was making me sick with anxiety.

The lady who did my medical was true to her word and for that I am grateful because until you get it in writing and confirmed your mind plays tricks on you! She actually told me on the day “You have passed your medical based on your conditions and I will recommend they give you the time to deal with your mental health problems”

It also provides me with vindication that I am ill and a long way from recovery and this does inspire me to one day rejoin the rat race once I am better.

Strange as it seems to have passed a medical to make you unfit for work it really does make a difference to know that others can see that you are not faking anything, that its not in your head.

For now it gives me some breathing space to work through my issues without the stress of being forced to look for work, and worrying about keeping a roof over my head.

They even told me I am entitled to a Christmas bonus payment of £10 woot woot.

So for all the negative posts out there about Atos I hope the fact that my experience was a positive one will at least cause some hope to others. Remember sometimes it is easier to write about the bad things and forget to praise the good and I found the whole Atos experience pleasantly surprising! That is not to say any future dealings will be the same but for now I have nothing bad to say about them.

My Dealing With Atos

Type Atos into Google and sit back and read horror story after horror story about Atos and how bad the medical had gone, how unprofessional the health care professional (HCP) was etc etc and by the time your medical comes around you are a bag of nerves!

A bit like me this morning 😀

And so I made my way to my medical with the unfortunate weegee being unwell and thus unable to attend.*

Luckily by the time I got her message I was too far down the road to justify turning back and not going!

An hour and 20 mins after leaving home I walked out of Archway underground station and made my way to the medical centre for my assessment. Ten minutes later I realised I had gone the wrong way and headed back from where I had come from, but that is besides the point 😀 although it did little to ease my nerves.

I arrived 30 minutes before my appointment time and sat in the office waiting for my appointment. Filled out the forms they gave me and had a much needed toilet visit!

The receptionist even gave me a form to fill in to claim money back for travel expenses which I did not know I could do!

My appointment was for 2.10pm but at 2pm my name was called, first time I have ever been seen early by anything connected to the DWP! Always gets a bonus point from me!

The lady (I can’t remember her name though) introduced herself and told me to relax and not be nervous, she could tell I was anxious and really tried to help me settle.

I was surprised at how much she knew about my illnesses and she had obviously read my notes prior to seeing me.

Her questions were not designed to trick me into anything other than telling the truth, I did not once feel like she was trying to interrogate me or cause me to make a mistake that could be held against me.

All the questions were based on my mental health illnesses and not my physical abilities. I was not examined physically at all.

At one point when I got upset she even calmed me down and gave me time to compose myself, didn’t rush me at all.

After I explained all about my IBS, my depression, possible new diagnosis of Bipolar and how it affects my life and daily routines it was all over. No pain, no suffering just relief that I had been treated like a human being and not like a number.

The lady treated me with respect, compassion and dignity and was nothing like I had read on other sites.

Now I understand that lots and lots of people are having problems with Atos but I can only write about my own experience and can honestly say it was very positive!

Did I get lucky with my HCP? possibly I did but then could it also be the case that it is easier to write a negative story about Atos rather than stick your neck on the line and write something positive?

All I need now is a letter from DWP stating that I passed my medical and all is good in Mooseland until the next medical comes around.**

Atos for me did good today! I hope that many others get as lucky as I did so that there is something positive found on Google about them!

* seriously weegee dont feel bad!

** is it kinda strange that I celebrate my illnesses being so bad that passing a medical that makes me unfit for work is an achievement?