Here comes the new boss,
Same as the old boss.
We will get screwed again… (with apologies to The Who)
Someone asked me what we can do, in the light of yesterday’s budget. Well, emigrate, would be my best suggestion. Not feasible for most of us, though, we can’t afford the medical bills.
Tempting though it might be, I don’t think lying on the floor, drumming your heels and screaming will help overmuch either.
As for introducing new DLA medical assessments by 2013, well, really, they couldn’t be any worse than those administered by Atos. If the assessments are honest, then I don’t have a problem. Which, in reality, probably means we’re screwed, because medical examinations haven’t been honest for a while, as a look through the comments on this blog will amply demonstrate, and I see no likelihood of that changing any time soon. But what really pisses me off is that, once again, we have spectre of massive DLA fraud.
Several years ago the DWP launched a purge on DLA fraud. They screwed up the lives of thousands of perfectly innocent people, needlessly reassessing them and, after a year or two, they gave up. Why? Because the level of DLA fraud that the Daily Mail, and now Osborne and his merry band of retards, are always bitching about simply doesn’t exist. There is some fraud – there always will be, as no system is perfect – but what they found was dozens of fraudsters, not thousands, or even hundreds. Hell, as it turned out there were probably more MPs fiddling their expenses.
The whole exercise wasted more money than it saved.
But consider, there is a widespread belief that the Thatcher government encouraged GPs to hive off long-term unemployed people onto Invalidity Benefit, as it was then, to keep the unemployment figures down (yeah, we saw how well that worked, with over 3,000,000 on the dole). And many of them would have gone on to claim DLA, and will still be on IB now. If it’s true.
OK, that would have massaged the unemployment figures, but financially, it would have been a disaster – Invalidity Benefit was worth far more than Unemployment Benefit (I can’t remember the exact figures), even more with DLA. I don’t believe it happened, because it simply doesn’t make sense, and because it would be impossible to keep secret.
There’s a belief, too, that those of us with indefinite DLA awards are immune to the review process. I’m not convinced but, even if it is true now, there’s no guarantee that it will remain true – there’s nothing at all to stop these buggers moving the goalposts if they feel like it.
I have a sneaky feeling that indefinite awards, being the most potentially costly if we don’t co-operate by dying early, will be among the first to be reviewed. Yes, I know I’m a cynical bugger – doesn’t mean I’m wrong though.
There is one thing in our favour – reassessing everyone on DLA will cost many millions of pounds and will be painfully slow – this despicable bunch of tossers may well be out off office before it gets properly under way. It’s debatable whether it’s actually affordable, anyway.
However, it’s the Tories we’re talking about – Cleggy and co are just a bad joke - and they, in my view, would have no hesitation spending hundreds of millions to save hundreds of thousands, simply because they are ideologically opposed to disability benefits. They have the seriously deranged idea that everyone should work for their money. On the rare occasion they actually intersect with the real world, they might actually notice that this isn’t always possible – I wouldn’t put money on it though.
And then there is one issue that Osborne has totally ignored – survival. For many people, DLA goes straight into the household budget – I know mine does – so how many could survive, financially, the loss of DLA? Hell, I live alone and I couldn’t. I wouldn’t starve but, on the other hand, I couldn’t afford things like new glasses, or batteries for my scooter, or any other of those myriad household and personal expenses that come along periodically.
I don’t think any of us should feel too secure right now.
Any poor sods on IB or ESA, though, are going to be far worse off than those of us just getting DLA (one of the few advantages of getting older is that I’m out of the IB system (although they say they will reassess my IB entitlement next year – should be interesting).
Osborne, like Labour’s James Purnell, has this bee in his bonnet about getting the chronically sick and disabled back to work, which does rather make me question his sanity. We’re in a recession, you dumb bastard – there are no jobs! And if things go down the pan as a result of the budget, it’ll be a full-blown depression, lacking only an Oklahoma-style dust-bowl around Milton Keynes to complete the picture.
If Osborne was honest – yeah, right – he’d admit that he has not the slightest desire to get the chronically sick and disabled into work, not least because there isn’t any. It’s simply a ruse to move them off expensive IB and ESA and on to Job Seekers’ Allowance, which is much lower.
That was Labour’s plan and, as I said, back in December last year, the Tories plans are exactly the same http://ronsrants.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/disability-benefits-under-the-tories/
It gives me no pleasure at all to say I told you so.
Anyone who has a “fringe” condition – one that isn’t 100% accepted by the medical profession, like ME/CFS, or FMS – or a condition that’s not been properly diagnosed (or, like me, hasn’t seen a consultant in years, because there is nothing to be done and it would be a waste of resources), would be well advised to get into the system. Between now and 2013, you want as much medical support as you can possibly get.
In fact, that probably goes for all of us.