Saturday, 15 January 2011

One Month before Heartbreak - a personal note

A Broken of Britain
14th – 16th January 2011

I am not personally affected by the proposed and likely to take place changes that the current Government are looking to adopt. The point of this post and like many others is to express absolute disbelief that we live in a Society where we are prepared to give thousands to other Countries in the world despite being in a recession and yet not provide safety and financial security for those entitled to claim it and those who need it. It truly begs belief. Please understand, I am not against helping other nations, it is quite right that we as a nation help others in a worse situation than ours, but not at the cost of ourselves.

My interest in this is that in 1952 my mother contracted Polio. From the age of 5 until she was 17 she attended hospital for various tests and check ups to establish how her muscles were affected by this disease. When my mother left school she established her working life and eventually had me and raised me.

When she was about in her early 50s Mum was plagued by periods of exhaustion and pain to name a few. Her GP signed her off work and after much form filling Mum eventually saw a Doctor who confirmed that Mum was entitled to claim incapacity benefit. After a period of time this was reviewed and Mum was advised that she was fit to work, although clearly she was not. I launched an appeal to the panel, which consisted of a lay person, a representative from the Benefit Agency and a Doctor. The Doctor at the panel agreed with my argument and stated that Post Polio Syndrome which my Mum has will get worse and not better and the Incapacity Benefit was reinstated.

Mum turned 60 and was advised that she should now claim Disability Living Allowance due to her increasing mobility issues. The Post Polio Syndrome is of course, as predicted getting worse. The form which no doubt many of you have seen is nearly 50 pages long and comprises of a set of questions, many repeated so that you might make yourself illegible for the benefit. Having completed the form two or three times and each time being refused. I consulted a local "volunteer expert" who assisted Mum and I with the form. The deadline was before Christmas and the form has been acknowledged and finally a report from the "medical expert" has been requested. By medical expert they have asked the physiotherapist for their views. No request has been made to the GP or to an expert in the field of Post Polio Syndrome. I did include some details about Post Polio along with the form.

My concern is this. The decision to allow or disallow is made on the basis that an expert has been asked. It of course does need to be the right expert in order for the decision made to be a robust and the right one. At the end of the day everyone seeking to claim or retain their allowance is an individual, each with an individual set of issues and concerns. Is it right that someone at 63, who was looking forward to retirement has a poor quality of life? Is any of the conditions that are being experienced right? Of course they are not, and as a society we have the power to give a little bit of help in order that it makes the life of that individual easier. We should not be making lives harder, so that exhaustion of living day to day is placed on top of the exhaustion felt by the conditions itself.

I have read somewhere that the Government believes that the amounts paid out in DLA is unsustainable. This benefit is in fact one of the hardest to claim. Given that it is so hard to actually be awarded the benefit, does the Government really believe that by removing the benefit will miraculously cure all those who currently claim and those who should be claiming but are not strong enough to plough through the red tape? If they do then the Government is not only deluded but seriously mistaken.

In 1942 the British Government asked Sir William Beveridge to write a report on the best ways to help people on low incomes. In December of the same year the Beveridge report was published and proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living "below which no one should be allowed to fall". When the Labour Party were elected in 1945 this policy was adopted. Somewhere since 1942 we have gone wrong. The current proposal confirms just that.

I don't know what the answer is. What I do know, is that we need to find away to protect those who for whatever reason are not able to fight this battle alone.

Disclaimer. The post above is written based upon known family history and my personal opinion. It is not written as a political post. I am happy for this post to be freely shared, however, please acknowledged me as the author.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for taking part in OMBH. Your blog is scheduled to go up on the main blog at 9pm tonight, linking back here.
    Good luck with your Mum's DLA and do let us know how you get on! Best wishes, BG Xx


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