It's all in the name!

9/29/2010 01:15:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 19 Comments

I lay in bed last night feeling quite sorry for myself, in fact, sorry enough for a tear to slide down my cheek. But then, as tends to happen when tears arrive, my nose started to block up and I realised I was far too sorry for myself to deal with that. So that was the end of that. I decided I'd better be cheerful instead and look on the bright side of life. 

I have a BendyBus! What's not to like? Well...BendyBus has returned from the garage where it had been for almost a week...and broke down more times than I could count on the way home. I'm not sure if the garage were too busy to look at it properly or whether they just didn't know what's ailing BendyBus but they liberally applied WD40 and didn't charge me anything. Which was very nice of them as they did drive me home and the robbing bastards company contracted to provide NHS wheelchair services wanted a £40 call out fee for private work. On top of service charge, any parts oh and some labour too. Which they didn't provide an actual price for. Which also reminds me they still haven't come back to fix my NHS wheelchair. Private companies doing NHS work with taxpayers money. Aren't we all glad they do such a reliable job already they won't need to clean up their acts to bid for more of that lovely taxpayer money coming their way? I'd stamp my foot if I hadn't already learnt my lesson about that leading directly to dislocations. It's a definite flaw in the system that politicians don't receive similar direct consequences to force them to learn from their mistakes, and just think how much more entertaining PMQ's would be!

Garages and mobility companies be damned, I know what's wrong with the BendyBus. It was very obvious when I thought about it sensibly. BendyBus requires constant charging, energy, warmth and attention. It looks pretty, uncannily like a fully functioning mobility scooter that has nothing wrong with it. BendyBus tries it's absolute best to do as it's told...only to immediately run out of power any time it's asked to do something, say, moving. Then it collapses in a big bendy heap on the pavement wailing "you can't make me". It's even in the name. That's right, the BendyBus must have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. There is no other possible cause. Batteries, chargers and loose connections be damned. 

Only I could end up with a mobility scooter with EDS; it's not like you can go to the shops and try to buy a scooter with it, they hide amongst all the fully functioning scooters, looking all shiny to convince the world their excellent health is the very reason to take them home. Then as soon as you're out the door it's collapse on the pavement in a big heap time. This is taking the bendy seeker gene to a whole new level. 

What with the BendyBus, the bendy seeker gene and the rest of my latest internet purchases it's probably for the best that I can't get out much at the moment. I appear to have taken inebriated online shopping to a whole new level. After the purchase of 6 bottles of mineral water heavier than myself caused by stoned reading of post apocalyptic swine flu literature I had thought I couldn't sink any lower* but this time I've outdone myself. I've bought a Onesie online. So now it's official. The BendyBus really is bendy and I am absolutely, definitely NEVER getting laid again. 

*In case anyone's interested they were very cheap and ConventGirl is still drinking the last of them as I had to give them to someone who could move the bottles out of my kitchen.


Lav Nav

9/28/2010 04:53:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

 LavNav is a wonderful example of universal design.  Perhaps initially aimed at a post 11pm, somewhat inebriated, home from the pub crowd it looks and acts cool whilst also providing a valuable service to those in need of accessible products. 

LavNav is designed to avoid those middle of the night, bleary eyed, mostly male, miss the toilets moments.  It acts as a nightlight, directing the light into the toilet bowl so the toiletee can see well enough to aim correctly without the harsh glare and unwelcome wake up factor which comes with turning on the main bathroom light. The light is red if the seat is up and green if it’s been left down indicating it’s safe to sit there without falling into or off the loo! The different colours and directed light would also make LavNav a fun way to teach toilet training skills. 

LavNav incorporates clever motion detectors which have been extremely effective so far. As someone too petite to set off the motion detectors commonly used for automatic doors I was a tad concerned about the potential for being rejected by my own night light. However, the motion detectors in LavNav have been extremely effective so far, probably because a deliberately wide range of motion has been used to make this product suitable for every sized night time toilet tripper. I feel all included, which is nice, and it’s nice to let you know that the motion detectors can be activated by small and big kids alike. 

LavNav requires two AA batteries. It has a sticky pad on the back so that it can be affixed to the underside of the toilet lid. It has to be placed quite precisely or the red and green warning system won’t work, the position has to enable the lifted up seat to obstruct the sensor so it knows what colour it should shine. That makes it a little tricky to fit if you have any issues with manual dexterity but it’s so quick and easy it shouldn’t be hard to find someone willing to help you out with the fitting. The sticky pad caused me a few nervous moments about leaving the toilet lid down, especially as I like to balance my laptop on the closed toilet seat so I can watch movies in the bath. I’m not sure Health and Safety would approve but I could do with some of the sticky pad stuff to put on the soles of my feet to keep my upright and anchored to the floor, it’s that good!

I already had a nightlight, one of those feebly glowing orange plugins which just wasn’t powerful enough to reach from the hallway to illuminate the toilet safely. LavNav has an impressive glow, without being harsh on the eyes it provides enough light to let you stumble safely to and from the loo, although it can’t protect you from a natural ability to stumble excessively, whatever the cause of that stumbling may be! 

LavNav is available from a range of retailers, starting from approximately £12 making it an affordable, practical and fun nightlight.


Bog Off - Exhibit 29 Chester Station

9/22/2010 05:55:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

As bogoff's go, Chester Station's isn't too bad. It's a good size, with more than enough room to manoeuvre a wheelchair alongside the loo. It was clean, apart from the loo paper sheets dropped on top of the sanpro waste disposal , and it didn't smell. There is a full-length mirror and there was plenty of contrast for people with visual problems - a good number of navy-blue grab rails stood out well from the white walls and turquoise door and flooring.

But oh dear, points must be deducted. There was no coat hook, which I always find a major annoyance. Ordinary public loos have hooks but the people that design bogoffs seem to think us crips don't wear coats, or carry handbags. And there was no privacy curtain. I don't think I have ever yet used a disabled toilet that has one, yet they are a very cheap and effective way to spare someone's blushes if the door needs to be opened in an emergency. Chester station's bogoff had one small advantage here in that the disabled toilet is inside the main door for all the public toilets and tucked into a corner, so should help need to be summoned you wouldn't be completely exposed to the gaze of passers by.

Talking of help and emergencies, I noticed immediately that the alarm cord was hanging well over a meter above floor level. Worse, it was wedged behind the loo roll dispenser. Tugging at it carefully failed to dislodge it and I was wary of tugging too hard in case I triggered it. It was impossible to tell if it was just too short or if the cleaners had knotted up the length and wedged it up out of the way of the floor polisher. Either way, I was worried about collapsing on the floor as I would not have been able to signal for assistance.

I was incensed enough that I complained immediately at the customer service desk, explaining that the cord was illegally short and anyone in trouble wouldn't be able to get help. To his credit, the man I spoke to promised to investiage immediately and sort it out. I hope he did.

6.5/10. It would have been 9.5 if the alarm cord had been properly positioned.

Words and pictures by Louise Bolotin 
Thanks Louise!


Bendy on t'telly..

9/21/2010 09:49:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

Granada Reports, ITV's north west regional news programme is running an investigation into the impact of the proposed spending cuts throughout the region, 'Cuts on the cards' They started in the Wirral and interviewed leader of the council, Councillor Jeff Green and myself. It's really fantastic to see the viewpoint of people who will be affected by the cuts being represented in a fair way, a refreshing change to all the 'benefit scrounger' rhetoric.

The report can be viewed here 
and for those outside the UK or using screen readers* it's available on youtube here 

* It's not possible to access the official Granada website video using a screen reader but I'm not sure if youtube is any easier?


I get by with a little help from my friends

9/18/2010 01:44:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 10 Comments

Sometimes words are hard to come by, stubbornly hiding in shadowed corners unwilling to show their faces. Then othertimes they fall from my fingers, in fully formed sentences tumbling over themselves in their eagerness to hit the page running. 

I'm all out of spoons, overdrawn and in debt to a bank with far harsher repayment terms than any to be found on a high street. I've been here before but this time I know the warning signs. My body has had enough and unless I heed it's red bordered demands for payment it will exact it's own. 

My DLA form sits across the room taunting me. It's late, of that I'm sure but with the most recent DWP ruse of sending out just the one letter and form warning people their award is due to finish and needs to be reapplied for, with the careful caveat that 'we will not contact you again' there is no date to be broken. I did not receive the DWP's only letter but fortunately knew to contact them and ask for another. How much money is saved by this trick I've no idea, but its sure to be a whole lot less than the damage it does to the lives of people dependant upon the system without the ability to navigate it. 

My printer broke. I don't know what's wrong with it, but if I'd spent as much time as it did bouncing around the back of Ben's old transit van I'd refuse to ever function again too. Those forms have to be printed off and sent back this weekend though, if not there won't be enough time before my current award ends for the DWP to make a decision. My ribs were all put back into their rightful places by my physiotherapist J yesterday, but lasted only a few hours before deciding that was all too much like hard work and concertinaing straight back out again. It was all a bit too much for me to be honest. 

Fortunately, unlike the last time my body was in this bad a way, I've been diagnosed with EDS long enough to know I'm not somehow magically capable of doing this to myself in the pursuit of attention and to have friends around me who find even the idea of that utterly bizarre. So here I am, on the sofa, my feet up, trying to be good and rest. GangstaGuy, despite being on carer duty for his mum and not my boyfriend has come to my rescue. Again. He's printing out my forms and driving the 40 minutes or so to bring them to me later on. With dinner if I need it and shopping so I don't have to go anywhere. And exhortations to 'at least try to rest please babe'

So I am. But I wouldn't be able to without his support and friendship which has changed my life for the better. I tell him, but writing it down means he'll always know just how much he really means to me.

I get by with a little help from my friends.


Cuts to DLA 'The easiest bit of welfare reform to sell'

9/17/2010 12:22:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

"The coalition’s assault on what the Conservatives refer to as “broken Britain” is underway. The government has announced for the first time how many of the UK’s 2.6m recipients of disability benefits it estimates will be reclassified as fit-to-work in this parliament. The answer: a cool 500,000 or 23 per cent of the total.

Although this will generate political heat among those affected, it is the easiest bit of welfare reform to sell. Britain’s out-of-work disability benefits have been abused. The last government belatedly recognised this and started to introduce a more rigorous system. But many of the 2.2m people who still claim the old benefit elected to do so because it is more generous than the dole."

This article in yesterday's Financial Times* makes very clear the ethos behind the Coalition government's slash and burn attacks on sickness related benefits, that cuts to disability benefits are perceived as the "easiest bit of welfare reform to sell" . The FT don't distinguish between the different types of sickness related benefits so I assume the figure of 2.2million people claiming what they describe as 'the old benefit' refers to Incapacity Benefit, the predecessor to Employment and Support Allowance brought in by New Labour. It seems equally safe to assume that the 2.6million they refer it is actually the 2.9 million Disability Living Allowance recipients, some 1.25 million of which are adults who claim both DLA and IB. 

The official Department of Work and Pensions fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance makes it very clear that only 0.5% of the total number of claims are fraudulent. That's approximately 14,500 fraudulent claims out of an overall 2.9million.  So, less than 15,000 Disability Living Allowance awards are fraudulent and the coalition are determined to reduce the numbers claiming DLA by half a million. Playing fast and loose with the DWP's own statistics and assuming they're wildly underestimating the problem of fraudulent claims, which seems particularly unlikely, if an overall fraud rate of, say 5%, 10 times that of the official rate were assumed, that would still only be one hundred and forty five thousand fraudulent claims out of a total 2.9 million. Still some three hundred and fity five thousand short of the half a million proposed reduction.

The agenda is clear. To vastly restrict eligibility to DLA, already the most rigorously assessed and difficult to claim benefit of all. 

So much for David Cameron's claim that "Those that can should, and those who can't we will always help. I want to make sure that my government always looks after the elderly, the frail, the poorest in our country." David Cameron, 11th May 2010

*10 articles available to view per month if  free registration completed. 


So long and thanks for all the fish!

9/15/2010 06:42:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

The BendyBus is coming! was coming, now it's being recharged in it's BendyBusBed after a sulk of such mammoth proportions it stopped working altogether. In the rain. Bad BendyBus. Fortunately a nice man called Richard stopped to see if I needed help and pushed me and BendyBus all the way home. In the rain. It's the Big Society in action, I'm tellin' ya. Dave 'the rave' Cameron would be well proud. Even if the BendyBus would need to apply for Incapacity Benefit. Innit.

It was all going so well yesterday. BendyBus had been charged overnight in it's own cosy little bedroom, the sun was shining and the sky briefly blue. Off I went on BendyBus with thoughts of a blue faced Mel Gibson yelling "Freedom" running through my mind. It totally was too. Freedom I mean. At I crashed up and down kerbs on BendyBus I realised it's been years since I've been able to go anywhere alone that didn't have parking within a few meters of the entrance. Living in small town land makes that kind of thing easier than in a city, but it's still seriously limiting. The fish in my GP's practice are nice an' all that, but being able to go and see them on my own does not make up for, well, everything else. They are just fish and probably no more impressed with the BendyBus than BendyCat is. Although, she totally will be once I introduce the concept of BendyCat Basket Busing to her. 

At this point I'm not sure whether BendyBus is just a drama queen when it comes to weather conditions or if it's something more serious, I plan to consult the local mechanics once the weather improves. And get breakdown insurance. Richard was so kind to push me home, but did look rather red in the face once we were back-I can't bear the thought of someone having a heart attack while pushing me and BendyBus-it'd mean I'd feel responsible for filling out their ESA forms! 


George Osborne & Danny Alexander Defend Disability Cuts by Beau Bo D'Or

9/13/2010 07:42:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

"Life thine eyes. You were once registered blind. You Shalt now be a proof reader for an insurance company"
Beau Bo D'Or

Image of a Jesus figure with axe in hand and George Osborne's face. Jesus George is stood in front of a metal security cover with a 'no disabled' sign depicted by a wheelchair image inside a crossed out red circle. To the figure's left is a 'Arising Soon, Lourdes Centre' sign in the same style used by JobCentrePlus. 


Why Osborne's benefit crackdown won't just hit the workshy,

9/12/2010 03:09:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

Why Osborne’s benefit crackdown won’t just hit the workshy

September 12, 2010 1:36pm

There’s been lots of speculation over the Treasury’s plans on sickness benefit. The Times flagged up a proposal to “means test”, while the Observer has a letter pointing to £2.5bn of incapacity benefit savings from an unspecified reform.
No final decisions have been taken. But reading between the lines, it sounds like moves are afoot to scale back “contributory incapacity benefit” (which I’ll explain in a second).

If so, it blows a rather big hole in George Osborne’s claim that a he’ll be finding savings from ending the “lifestyle choice” of those determined to “pull down the blinds” and scrounge on benefits. These reforms largely take money from people who have worked and fallen ill, rather than those who’ve allegedly chosen a life on the “sickie”.
Here’s why. At present there are two broad categories of sickness benefit, which apply to those who’ve been employed for several years before falling ill (contributory), and those who have no significant earnings in recent years (income related).
Abolishing or time restricting contributory incapacity benefit effectively means all those eligible on health grounds would at some point take the means test for “income related” sickness benefit, which excludes those with big savings or a partner who works. When we put together the FT deficit buster, we put the saving at around £2bn from abolishing it altogether.
This makes big savings and gives the same support to the poor. The political downside is that it is seriously unfair to those who pay “national insurance” imagining it gives them a safety net should their health take a turn for the worse.
Cracking down on benefit scroungers always polls well. But I doubt people realise that the “clampdown” may involve withdrawing sickness benefit from a widow with more than £16,000 savings who left work because she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The chancellor would, in other words, be taking money from low and middle income households who’ve paid taxes and suffered a health setback. It is the opposite of the workshy, benefit dependent households Osborne targets in his rhetoric.
Given the state of the public finances, the reforms could well be necessary. But it’s probably worth tailoring the rhetoric to match the cut. The headlines look great at the moment, but attacking the workshy may not be as cost-free as Osborne imagines.
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Disabled Man Refused Benefits Despite Having 2 False Legs

9/11/2010 08:42:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

 Marc Addington, Liverpool Echo, Sept 11 2010

A DOUBLE amputee from Kirkby was refused a disability benefit after he was assessed on his records from before he lost his legs.
Phillip Carr, 44, lost his left leg last year after a painful infection, before losing his right leg due to complications with his diabetes.
But when he attempted to get the “care component” of his disability living allowance, he was refused.
The former railway man said the strain of walking on false legs played havoc with his blood sugar levels and made him prone to a diabetic attack.
He needed the financial help so he could afford to have a carer with him while out and about, rather than have to rely on friends and family.
But he was “dumbfounded” to be told he didn’t qualify – only then to find he had been assessed using records from when he was still able-bodied.
And matters were made worse when he was told he did not qualify for benefits which would help him get a mobility car because, he said, he was told his “situation may change”.
Mr Carr said: “I was absolutely shocked. I was fit and able until I had the first operation.
“I basically thought someone must be taking the Mickey here, that’s what it felt like. People who don’t need it get it and those that do, don’t.”
He said the mobility knock- back was the final straw, and decided to pursue a legal case.
He added: “’Situation may change’? With the best will in the world, I’m not going to grow a new pair of legs.”
But, following the ECHO’s inquiries, the Department for Work and Pensions have “revised their decision” in his favour.
He will not now have to go through the appeals process and hopes the U-turn will help him live a more independent life.
Mr Carr said: “I’m happy that it’s been sorted and that this faceless bureaucracy have seen a bit of sense. I’ve finally got help, and I’m made up with the ECHO and my solicitor at Linskills for his help. It just shows if you battle it out you can come through in the end.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We have spoken to Mr Carr, to discuss further his individual circumstances and based on the facts now presented by him, have been able to revise decisions in his favour.”


Scope responds to £4bn additional welfare cuts

9/10/2010 11:27:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

Scope responds to £4bn additional welfare cuts

10 September 2010
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said:
“The Government continues to announce cuts to the welfare bill before it has even carried out its own impact assessment. How can we be confident that disabled people who are unable to work will continue to receive the ‘protection’ they need, without seeing this evidence?
"Only by fully understanding the consequences of their actions will the Government be able to ensure that these cuts will not further penalise disabled people. Being disabled is not a lifestyle choice and we want the Government to fully understand the consequences of any action it takes.”


800, 000 claimants face losing their incapacity benefit - The Times, Fri 10 Sept 2010

9/10/2010 10:00:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

800,000 claimants face losing their incapacity benefit – The Times, Firday 10 September 2010*

George Osborne: said to be demanding up to £10 billion more from the £170 billion social security budget

Jill Sherman Whitehall Editor

Hundreds of thousands of people are likely to lose sickness benefits under a new assault on the welfare state, The Times has learnt.

The Treasury is considering means-testing incapacity benefit — given to those considered too sick to work — a change under which 800,000 people on modest to high incomes would lose it altogether. The entitlement, which is available to those who have paid national insurance contributions, costs the taxpayer more than £6.5 billion a year and goes to more than 2.5 million people.

Millions of disabled and sick people have been on the benefit — which is between £68 and £96 a week — for years and are able to stay on it until they retire, irrespective of their income or that of their partner.

Disability and poverty groups warned yesterday that means-testing would fly in the face of the principle of paying national insurance to fund benefits. They argued that the disabled and mentally ill were becoming the main victims of the Treasury’s spending cuts.

“It would be grossly unfair if someone who had worked for over 30 years and had paid [national insurance] throughout suddenly found the benefit taken away at the moment they needed it,” said Sue Royston, social policy officer for Citizens Advice.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has agreed to £11 billion savings a year. But George Osborne, the Chancellor, is said to be demanding up to £10 billion more from the £170 billion social security budget. Mr Osborne indicated yesterday that he had already identified £4 billion affecting those on “out-of-work benefits”.

“People who think it’s a lifestyle choice to just sit on out-of-work benefits — that lifestyle choice is going to come to an end. The money won’t be there,” he said.

One Whitehall official told The Times that means-testing incapacity benefit, which could save up to £2 billion a year, was being considered. “We are seeking more on incapacity benefit,” he conceded. “If more cuts are made to the welfare budget we should be able to reduce the bigger cutbacks to other Whitehall departments.”

Other benefits under threat include those going to pensioners, such as winter fuel payments and TV allowances, which could save £2.7 billion if scrapped.

Under the latest plans being considered, those on incapacity benefit — or employment and support allowance, which is replacing it — would receive it for a time-limited period of six months to a year. After this, those on higher incomes — generally those with working partners — would lose the benefit, and those on lower incomes would lose part of it. Those on the lowest incomes would still receive income support.

Mrs Royston argued that people would lose all entitlement to incapacity benefit if their partner had an income of about £8,000 a year or had savings of more than £16,000, if the present rules for other means-tested benefits were applied.

“This is causing enormous concern,” she said. “If someone who has worked for years became seriously ill and his partner earned over £150 a week, he would get nothing, despite his contributions.”

Treasury officials believe that many people remain on sickness benefits until they retire even if they could do some type of work.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics, published this week, show that in more than 840,000 households all members of the household over 16 are too sick to work. In a further 612,000 households, at least one member is too sick to work.

The Government is already clamping down on payments to the disabled and has pledged to introduce more rigorous medical tests for all incapacity benefit claimants by next March, but the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is already having trouble finding enough doctors to carry out the checks.

The severely disabled, who receive disability living allowance to help to pay for carers, are also facing medical tests for the first time.

Sources at the DWP yesterday made it clear that negotiations were still going on but did not rule out reducing or scrapping benefits for those on higher incomes. “We are presently looking at a range of options for welfare reform and any decisions will be made in the context of the spending review,” a spokesman said. “Our reforms will ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.”

Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of Scope, the disability charity, condemned the plans to means-test incapacity benefit, claiming that people would be denied the support they had paid for.

“People will effectively be penalised for working hard, saving and contributing to society,” Mr Hawkes said. “The Government has made much of its commitment to ensuring that the impact of cost savings is spread fairly, but this feels like another example of disabled people bearing the brunt of cuts.”

*No link provided as The Times is now behind a paywall. 


Bog Off - Exhibit 28 Student Style!

9/08/2010 11:17:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

This Bog Off was sent in by @Trufflepotamus, a student at The University Of East Anglia.

My source tells me that the disabled toilets in the accessible student bedrooms are huge wet rooms which are rather good, but this particular toilet seems to have been nothing more than an exercise in ticking boxes. So much so that not only is it not labelled as a disabled toilet, it hasn't even merited a toilet label of it's own. Poor loo, it must be very lonely all on it's own in a corridor facing a glass door without a sign to let anyone know it can be visisted! 

The photos are all taken from standing in the doorway as the door didn't actually open fully and got in the way. 

As I haven't seen this Bog Off in person, it's tricky to comment on the dimensions, but from the photos and impossible to open fully door, it certainly appears as though it would be very difficult to get a wheelchair in there, even a wheelchair as small as my child sized one probably wouldn't fit. The grab rails are a different colour from the walls, which makes them easier to see but there don't appear to be enough rails in the right places to enable transfer, even if a wheelchair could be slotted somewhere between the toilet, the wall, the sanitary disposal bin and the normal bin.

There's also no don't bother to bring your lip gloss!


Benefits and Work - September Newsletter

9/07/2010 10:49:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

The truth about benefits bounty hunters 
MPs returned to the commons today and, as a result, many of us will be bracing ourselves for the next round of misleading and vicious attacks on disabled claimants.
But, in reality, the hate campaign never really let up over the summer recess.  The most distressing example was undoubtedly the threat to unleash private sector bounty hunters on incapacity benefit claimants.

So, to mark the return of the disablist parliament , Benefits and Work looks at what actually happens when government agencies work with the private sector to uncover benefits fraud. 

We reveal:

  • whether incapacity benefit claimants really will be investigated if they spend too much money on flat screen TVs, gardening or DIY equipment;
  • whether disability living allowance claimants will be on the bounty hunters ‘most-wanted’ list;
  • what the only type of fraud likely to be detected by bounty hunters actually is.
Find out what’s really going to happen if the private sector goes claimant hunting in ‘The truth about bounty hunters’.  (This article is members only)


Professor Malcolm Harrington, meanwhile, is carrying out the independent review which is supposed to find out the truth about whether the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance is working.  In our last newsletter we asked you to contact  the professor with your views and experiences. 

We now understand that the professor would also like to know what changes you would make to improve the assessment process.  Very high on our list would be the right to record your medical without the nonsense of having to provide a sound engineer and professional recording equipment. 

So, even if you’ve already made a submission to the review, if you have practical suggestions for improvements, such as being able to record your medical, please email them to

not later than 10 September.


For further reading about disability benefits issues in general, we can recommend the Where’s the Benefit blog, which was set up in August for the purpose of ‘Campaigning against the government's distressing war on disabled benefit claimants’.  There’s lots of well-informed comment and news, some of it from people you will be familiar with if you are a BBC Ouch regular.


Meanwhile, CarerWatch are beginning a campaign to ask the Coalition to protect disability benefits before the October cuts. In preparation, they are asking disabled people and their carers to post short accounts of their own fears about benefit cuts and how it will affect them on the CarerWatch site.


One of the cuts planed for October will result in almost half of all claimants who receive mortgage interest payments facing a shortfall.  The majority of those who will fall into arrears will be pensioners and disabled claimants.   The coalition blithely claims that ‘based on conversations with the Council of Mortgage lenders we would expect lenders to demonstrate forbearance in the vast majority of these cases’  You can read more details in the DWP equality impact assessment.


The forums were closed for a few weeks in August due to a shortage of moderators.  We reopened on 1 September with two new mods – welcome Survivor and DepressedDerek – and below are a few of the good news posts we’ve received since reopening.

DLA Tribunal Result

ESA Success- thankyou!

Don’t give up!

Relief - ESA into Work Related Group

ESA Appeal Success - Harrumble!


IB tribunal

MPs are only back for two weeks before going off on another break for their annual conference jamborees.  We have no doubt that all the major parties will be using the occasion to try to outdo each other in demonstrating how tough they can be on sick and disabled claimants.  Meanwhile, we’ll carry on doing our best to reveal the truth behind the disablist propaganda.

This newsletter can also be read online at:
Good luck,

Steve Donnison

(c) 2010 Steve Donnison. Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd.  Company registration No.  5962666

You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your website or blog, provided you do so in full.

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Q.61 Please tell us anything else you think we should know about your claim

9/06/2010 11:47:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

This is the actual answer provided on my current application for Disability Living Allowance for Q.61 Please tell us anything else you think we should know about your claim. This post should be read in conjunction with the part answer to Q.31 Do you need someone with you to guide or supervise you when walking outdoors in unfamiliar places in the blog Helping Hands, and the blog Page 18, Other Information IB50 form.

I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in 2004 after many years of being fobbed off and dismissed by medical professionals. After so long living with increased disability without knowing the reasons why I was relieved just to get an answer. Perhaps naively I hoped that diagnosis would be the first step towards getting better and regaining the many things I'd lost, friends, relationships, career and family. 

Day to day my life just is what it is, constant pain, dislocating joints, medications, falls, choking, incontinence, mobility equipment and many other indignities are always there but things I deliberately choose not to consider. I make jokes out of difficult situations, give mumbled half answers when people ask how I am, or just insist I'm fine even when it is patently obvious to everyone that I am anything but. I do this because to focus on the difficult things would make me incredibly depressed and to be blunt, I have enough problems already. Depression would just tip me over the edge. So instead I slap a smile on my face, no matter how hard or horrible the day. I smile because otherwise I'd cry and that just gives me a headache. I choose to be happy by focusing on how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head, to be able to see the sun shine, and to live in a country which still, just about, believes that looking after those who are more vulnerable is a collective responsibility. 

Filling out these forms has been a depressing and traumatic process for me. What I expected to be a straightforward task of explaining my disability has actually been a complex and difficult confrontation of the issues I face but choose not to think about on a day to day basis. Not only does it hurt my hands, but it breaks my heart to type the words I avoid saying out loud. That for the past six years I have fought every day; to gain an understanding of my condition, to take the correct medications, to eat the right food, to do the endless, painful, frustrating and incredibly boring physiotherapy exercises, to accept having to use a wheelchair, to learn to accept that the physical pain which is my constant companion will never go away, and will instead be joined by the emotional pain of a million tiny losses. 

It has taken me weeks to fill out this form as every time I try to answer a question I give up. How can I explain what it's like to have forgotten how not being in pain feels? That even the smallest movement can cause one or more joints to dislocate. What it's like to try and do even the simplest tasks with joints that won't hold themselves together, let alone do anything of practical value. When I dislocate my knee just rolling over in bed it's easy to swear a bit and refuse to think about the white hot pain, or subsequent tears, or the shoulder that's dislocated trying to relocate the knee, but that filling that information out on a form defeats me. All those individual dislocations and consequent lost opportunities I ignore in favour of those created, but to see them in glaring detail, not just once but the 53 different ways required by an official form is too much for me to bear. 


Disability Now's Pick Of The Blogs

9/01/2010 10:02:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

Big thanks to fellow disability blogger Sarah Ismail for listing me as one of her favourite blogs in her 'Pick Of The Blogs' article for Disability Now

You can see the other blogs Sarah picked as her favourites in the full article at Disability Now.