Sicknote culture costs risen to £16bn a year … but two-thirds of claimants ARE able to work screamed the headline in the Daily Mail and, as so often with the Mail, it’s complete bullshit.
The scumbag Mail hack, Steve Doughty, goes on to say “Many claim to suffer from mental or behavioural disorders, in other words, stress,”. Lumping the entire spectrum of mental illness together and just calling it stress is an opinion so crass that the only sensible response would be a bloody good kicking, with a swift prayer to whatever gods there may be that Doughty succumbs to a hugely disabling mental illness as soon as possible, and that everyone he goes whining to tells him to bugger off, it’s just stress!
There is, it seems, a great deal of paranoia over the fact that many Incapacity Benefit claimants are 35 or under, as if there’s some magic cut-off age, below which you can’t possibly be disablingly ill. Complete bollocks, of course. When I left school, having been seriously ill since the age of 2, and missed about a third of my schooling (though I still did moderately well academically – well, as well as you could do in a secondary school in 1959), I was told by my doctor, that I must never work, as the risks of infection were too great, but if I felt I had to, I must never work in the winter. Advice, almost 50 years on, I wish I had taken. So you see, age is no bar to disability – just ask all the disabled children.
I started work the day after I left school – no gap years in those days, folks, we had to get out and earn a living – and worked until I became unable to continue, in my forties, during which time I lost almost every job I ever had through excessive sick leave. I have no compunction at all about claiming Incapacity Benefit (or DLA), though I have to say that the attractions of poverty are minimal. Luckily, I have a frugal lifestyle, or I’d not be able to afford luxuries like food, or clothes! Seriously, I do live frugally – if I had three meals a day, instead of just one, I’d really feel the pinch.
For the record, Incapacity Benefit amounts to approximately £4,500 per year, with minor variations depending on previous earnings. With DLA it comes in at something over £7,000 a year, depending on the rates of DLA claimed (compared to a minimum wage annual rate of around £11,500). This is, by any definition, poverty, yet we’re asked to believe that people in their many thousands are fraudulently claiming this when they could be working (I could, perhaps, more readily believe it if the claim was that they were working as well, but it’s not).
Before you start screaming that the minimum wage isn’t a fair comparison, bear in mind that income tax would be minimal – in fact there may well be tax credits – so I think it’s fair enough. After all, we all have the same outgoings – in fact, the disabled, being in many cases housebound, will have higher heating and lighting costs as they’re not out at work all day. So if the constant cry that the minimum wage isn’t high enough is credible – and it is – what does that say for benefit rates?
Here’s something that’ll wind up Daily Mail fruitcakes – readers and writers – I get free prescriptions. If I didn’t the bill would be £1,363.20 per year minimum. No doubt pillocks like Doughty would far rather I footed the bill myself, but at least getting older has some benefits. Mind you, that’s been a bone of contention most of my life. I have a life-threatening illness** that, without constant medication, would very likely kill me, yet like very many people in my position, until I turned 60 I couldn’t get free prescriptions. I could if I had one of a wide variety of unpleasant, painful but not necessarily life-threatening conditions, but not for one that at best could drastically shorten my life, and at worst could kill me at any time (if I live to draw my pension I’ll take that as a win – 2 years to go, watch this space!). That was, and continues to be, completely unacceptable.
Ah well, I seem to have wandered off the point, but those things are relevant to the chronically sick and disabled. But to get back to the alleged fraud, and the scale of it, which in my view is minuscule – we’ve been here before, with DLA some years ago, and many thousands of sick and disabled people had their lives blighted by Benefits Agency storm troopers, to find just a few “frauds”, and many of them were overturned on appeal. The level of benefits fraud claimed by wankers at the Daily Mail, and by failing politicians, eager to drum up the support of the more rabid sectors of their electorates (yes, you, Gordon, ya great gowk), just isn’t there.
There’s a very simple check – compare benefit records with tax and national insurance records. If many thousands of people are working and claiming, a lot will turn up in that search. Has that ever been done? To the best of my knowledge, no. On the other hand, maybe it has been done, and so few fraudsters were caught, just as with DLA, that it was hushed up as embarrassing and, of course, contradicting government propaganda (Goebbels would have loved these fuckers!).
So here’s a challenge for the Daily Mail – instead of publishing lies, distortions, and prejudice, SHOW US THE EVIDENCE! Or – and here’s an original thought, guys – get off your fat, overpaid arses and come and talk to us, the people you fuckwits are continually demonising – we ARE real people you know, not just cyphers. The crap you publish is seriously detrimental to us as individuals, and were it addressed to an individual instead of a faceless group, would quite definitely be libellous.
** From the age of 2 I had bronchiectasis and asthma – simultaneous measles and whooping cough really did a number on my lungs (note to idiot parents; get your kids vaccinated!!) – and at 17 was told I’d be doing well to get to 40. This, now I’m older and have emphysema, is all lumped together as COPD which, despite what many people think, is not exclusive to smokers – it is exacerbated by them, though! If smoking in the workplace had been banned 40 years earlier, I’d be a lot better than I am now.