Gosh! there seems to have been so much going on recently that I have lost touch. I have been dipping in to the site every now and then but am now missing my new cyber friends.
I have recently had my appeal for an increase to middle care rate of Disability Living Allowance accepted which is great news and will make a huge difference to my day to day life. The extra £30 odd pounds per week will pay for someone to cut my grass for me and maybe the occasional hour of cleaning services.
It has taken a few months to get this far while the DWP write to my GP and OT and during this time I have become more aware of what appears to be a rising stigma attached to the receipt of disability benefit.
Now that I have been granted the Middle Care Rate I have received a letter informing me that I may be entitled to the Severe Disablement Premium. This is not the same as the Severe Disablement Grant, which I think has now been abolished. Apparently the premium is to make extra allowances to those of us who are on Income Support (I am on incapacity benefit which is topped up by IS). I may be wrong here, but my understanding of the level at which IS is set is calculated on the minimum amount the government says we need to live on per week. The important part to note here is the word minimum ie: without luxuries. The Severe Disablement Premium is granted in recognition that in order to maintain those minimum levels of basic living we (as disabled people) have more expenses to consider. That said, I have read that it is going to be abolished in April 2013. Can anyone tell me if this is true? If so, does that mean that we have suddenly developed an ability to manage our care needs without help or, more disturbingly, are we going to be suddenly expected to live below the minimum calculated income?
I recently had a water meter fitted and was chatting to the man about life and the universe in general. He was very put out about the raise in his expected retirement age (for good reason) but then, rather tactlessly I thought, went on to run down his neighbour who is claiming Disability Allowance and yet had a large TV. He was very upset because he personally could not afford one for himself and thought his neighbour was getting something free at his expense. Let’s think about this for a moment…….Perhaps his neighbour has a large TV because he can’t walk, can’t go to work, can’t afford holidays, can’t afford a mortgage, can’t dig his garden or the trillions of other things that people take for granted. Maybe the TV is actually all that he has got, in which case he bloody deserves a TV as big as a house if he so wishes.
In the light of the paraolympics, we are all encouraged to look at what we CAN do rather than what we can't do. I am not suggesting that this is a bad thing. I think it is admirable to maintain a positive outlook on life - BUT it should not be used as an excuse to withdraw support to those who actually CAN't manage by using subliminal suggestions that they are not trying hard enough.
DLA and the other benefits we receive because we are not able to work are NOT the same as unemployment benefit. There is a lot of talk at the moment about ‘giving us the incentives to return to work’. That kind of talk is admirable if and only if we are actually able to sustain work for a significant period of time. I personally, have been on supported work for several times. The reason it has been several times is because I have been unable to sustain it. Taking away our premium is not going to be an incentive to me getting back to work – it will be a lowering of the minimum amount I need to live on and therefore a withdrawal of my basic human rights.
Rant over……I’ll get back in my cage now.