Sometimes, looking at things from a sideways angle is helpful...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

This government kills people.

Considering that I'm a bit of a self-professed leftie, I'm coming to this statement rather late. I've known for a long time, I suppose. I've heard about the people who die in police custody, and been disgusted as the police close ranks and protect each other. I hadn't ever thought about it in terms of this government, and the changes it's making, actively killing people though. Nor had I considered that that may be their intention. I realise this makes me sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but the attacks on the sick and disabled appear to come from an ideological basis, not a financial one.

My statistics might be a little bit off, because I'm using old numbers, but assuming the fraud rate on DLA is 0.5% (1), and the pay out is £12.6 billion annually (2) then surely the amount "lost", so to speak, is about £63 million. That sounds like a lot, until you consider that according to Macmillan, "more than £126.5 million pounds in disability benefits is going unclaimed by cancer patients" (3). That number does cover both DLA and Attendance Allowance (AA), but nonetheless exceeds the fraudulent amount, and is only the amount unclaimed by cancer patients.

I'm probably entitled to at least £100pw. Now, some of that would go on care, which is fine, but some of that would be there for me to do things like save up for a wheelchair. Why don't I have it? Because I'm utterly terrified of ATOS. I've finally got my DLA forms together, I just need a letter from my social worker, and a letter from my GP, but with my move to Spain I'm not exactly going to be able to attend any assessments, so it gets delayed another year. I'll send it off around Easter. I've already spent two and a half years trying to do this paperwork. Like many other disabled people I need the money. It would help me buy things like this new chair. It would help me buy an expensive cushion designed to prevent my next major issue being back pain. It would help me afford taxis back when I go out late and can't wheel back, and help me afford to buy friends who help me out the odd drink. In short, it would mean that I didn't face yet more issues as a result of being disabled. However, every time I get near, I think of the ATOS assessment. I'm not a clear-cut case where it's immediately obvious what's wrong, and that's that. My condition is massively variable between good and bad days. Therefore, I'm the kind of person that has a hard time with ATOS. They don't exactly have a great track record, and I'm terrified of being a victim of it.

Regularly, my head tells me I'm not disabled enough. Tells me that if I just tried a bit harder, I'd be able to walk normally. Logically, I know that isn't the case. God knows I've tried enough times. Emotionally though, it feels like it. It feels like if I just put that effort in... and on the occasions I've tried I've often ended up either in hospital or needing to be in hospital. What I don't need though is to be hearing that in an assessment, to be told I'm not disabled enough. The idea scares me to the point where I haven't applied for DLA yet.

Approximately 32 people a week are dying within the year they're given to find work (4). This suggests a clear and solid disregard from the government for the disabled, it suggests programs that are not working, it suggests a broken assessment system. This was exposed by the Mirror in April, so more worrying is the fact that it's continuing to happen, that the benefits system is killing people. Disabled people are being driven to suicide by losing their benefits, or by fear of losing their benefits. If the benefits are lost, people are dying as a result of their illness or disability instead.

This represents a clear ideological attack on the disabled. We are not valuable members of society. We are expendable. As a group, if we're not working, we might as well not be alive. As well  as the ideological attack, however, it represents a clear physical attack. We are being killed in droves, left with inadequate benefits or care, driven to suicide, or dying of our illnesses despite being "fit to work".

I've been steadily declining for a while. Every time I read an article on this topic I realise... this could be me in a few years, assuming there's even still a welfare state by then.



  1. Huge amount of good investigative work being done in the area by Private Eye (their 'In the Back' section) - absolutely chilling, but essential reading to understand just how profits are being put ahead of marginalised people's lives.

    Thanks for writing x

    1. Thanks :) Personally, I'm not going to look for it. This stuff scares and messes me up enough without me hunting down more of it, but it might be interesting for others!