First of all, there is a load of ESA information here.
Anyone who thinks that life will be better when Employment and Support Allowance is probably in for a nasty shock. The government really has no interest in making your life – or mine – better. Quite the opposite.
The government’s stated aim is to get people off IB and, by extension, DLA, and into the employment market (and if you’re moved to UB you’re “officially” not disabled, and you can bank on your DLA claim being put at serious risk).
In reality they are fully aware that this will mean people now claiming IB will be shifted to Unemployment Benefit and, subsequently, Income Support, where they will remain as they will be unemployable (there will be an appeal process, presumably). No-one who has been on IB/IVB for, say, 2O years+, as I have, even if they were suddenly to become perfectly fit and well, will ever be employable – no employer in their right mind would take the risk, but the government cares about this not one iota. They don’t care about you, or me, all they care about is the numbers – and sucking up to the Daily Mail and its brain-damaged readership. If you think that’s a bit harsh, I suggest spending some time on their website, reading the comments from readers, especially in relation to articles concerned with disability benefits.
If you – or me, or anyone – is unemployable in the real world, that will matter not at all if they decide you should be employable, even if only theoretically. It’s all about reducing the number of disability benefit claims, and that’s all they care about – why else would they be disseminating all the disinformation about us, like two-thirds of us are perfectly able to work, or claimants under 35 are frauds? What about disabled kids then? They know it’s bollocks, we know it’s bollocks, but it makes them look ‘ard and it impresses the rabid readership of the Mail, who lap this stuff up – and you underestimate their influence at your peril.
Most, if not all, political commentators believe that Brown & Co. are vigorously and actively cultivating the Mail and its readers, as it’s the only friend they have left in the press – everyone else is backing Cameron (but don’t get the idea that the Conservatives will be any better – they won’t be). Impressing the Mail was the sole reason for upgrading cannabis recently – everyone else knows it’s nonsense – the only effect will be to create more criminals, grist to the Mail’s mill.
By the way, I’ve read that some people have been awarded hundreds of pounds a week extra on ESA, but my understanding is that ESAis not due to be introduced until October this year. Anyone out there know anything different?
There is one thing, more than any other, that makes me doubt the government’s honesty over ESA – where are all these jobs supposed to come from? They simply aren’t there – it’s merely a ruse to shift us onto cheaper, and less politically-sensitive benefits.
My personal view is that it will be harder to claim ESA than IB, and that’s hard enough, as the “capacity for limited work” criteria are savagely stringent, and almost anybody is capable of doing something at some point – god help anyone with ME if they’re assessed on a good day, because I seriously doubt that will be taken into account. See here for an overview of the criteria.
Personally, I’m relieved that I’ll probably be drawing my pension before I’m caught up in ESA, because there are days when – in theory at least – I am capable of work. The fact that travelling to a job would render me incapable of doing it will, I suspect, count for nothing. Nor will being unable to know, today, just how ill I’m going to be tomorrow (I mean, right now, typing this is a massive challenge, and there’s a risk I might puke all over my laptop, thanks to migraine). Hell, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get out of bed until I try, so how can I plan ahead for stuff like going out to work? I can’t even be sure of being well enough to go and visit my doctor. Indeed, I haven’t been, and I really need to. The capacity for limited work assessment is very unlikely to take account of any of this.
My opinion, when ESA arrives, is that most of us are in danger of being seriously screwed, as the only people safe from its depredations are those who meet the following conditions:-
1. You are suffering from a severe life threatening disease in relation to which there is medical evidence that the disease is uncontrollable, or uncontrolled, by a recognised therapeutic procedure; and in the case of a disease that is uncontrolled, there is a reasonable cause for it not to be controlled by a recognised therapeutic procedure.
2. You suffer from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and consequently there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if you were found not to have limited capability for work.
Consider clause No.1 – My ME, yours too, probably, is totally uncontrolled by a “recognised therapeutic procedure”, because there isn’t one, but seriously, how much ice do you think this will cut with DWP-appointed doctors who are probably completely ignorant of the condition? Bloody good luck with that!