Incapacity Benefit – the lies…

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.

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5 thoughts on “Incapacity Benefit – the lies…

  1. When Blunkett declared in 2005 that the numbers of IB claimants had trebbled (or quadruppled) since 1979 and thus started the whole witch hunt off why didn’t he say: “The numbers of IB claimants had increased seven fold since 1971″? That way Banker Freud could have told us that six out of seven claimants were really fit for work instead of a mere two out of three. In fact why where the politicans not crying out that they were being taken for a ride by people filing false invalidity benefit claims in 1979? After all in 1971 there were just 400,000 on IVB compared to the 790,000 claimed by Blunkett in 1979.

    The answer is thought provoking so Mail readers should get off at this point:

    You see Invalidity Benefit, the forerunner to Incapacity Benefit, had a similar National Insurance gateway. It was necessary to have an up to date record of paid National Insurance contributions! At a stroke, four million sick and disabled non working people from 1970 were denied access to the new Invalidity Benefit which came on stream in September 1971! Invalidity Benefit was a benefit for new claimants only.

    The point is that while most claims for IVB are short term with the claimant returning to work after weeks or months on IVB. Every year since 1971 about 10%-15% of new claims are for long term chronic conditions with victims who will be on the benefit for life. In short IVB and later IB are designed to engage an increasing caseload of sick and disabled people as the years go by. The sums are quite simple but just beyond the capabilities of the DWP. Its rather a shame the government didn’t know this as it would have significantly impacted upon its welfare Reform strategy.

    By the way a “witch hunt” as sociologists use the term is designed to catch not witches but witch hunters e.g. Mail Readers. The Welfare Reform Act arose from Blair’s desire to end contributions based Incapacity Benefit and replace it with means tested Income Support by Reason of Incapacity without of course cutting the actual national insurance contributions. In order to do this they have to push the right buttons on the unthinking masses and persuade the Turkeys that Christmas really is a good idea. With Mail readers this is quite a simple matter. They woukd all be quite happy to abolish Incapacity Benefit and keep paying their NI contributions.

    Cranberry Jelly anyone?

    JM

  2. I think you have got some of it wrong. I stay in Scotland and see a lot of benefit fraud going on. It is fair to say though it is mostly in the building trade. Invalidity benefit was a common one with mobility cars being used by the recipients kids and not much by them. They get picked up at the pub though so some good comes out of it.
    There are a lot of deserving cases but handing out cash leaves the system open to abuse.
    I know a few people who get incapacity benefit and have done for years and I wondered what the extra money was actually for. They don’t have any more needs than someone who is unemployed. (They sit together in the pub). If it was for a taxi to get about they would be better getting a travel type warrent.

  3. Come off it, Rick. I sit in the pub, along with others on benefit – what the hell has that got to do with anything? Are you saying because I’m on benefit I should just sit at home?

    And, yes, everyone knows someone who’s working the system, or thinks they do, but you say you “stay” in Scotland, not live there, so how intimate can your knowledge really be?

    Many people get IB who don’t look ill. I’m one of them. And, of course, you can get it if you are mentally ill, too, and mostly that doesn’t show either.

    I think some London boroughs have taxi warrants for the disabled, but it’s not wide-spread in the UK. Mostly you’re doing well if you can get a travel pass for public transport (and they are NOT just handed out to anyone who asks).

    No system is perfect, there will always be a degree of fraud, but when the government launched a campaign of persecution against DLA claimants to “prove” fraud was as high as they said it was, they failed miserably, catching only a few, most of which were overturned on appeal. And, incidentally, spending millions in the process.

    No-one has yet succeeded in proving that benefit fraud is more than just a fringe issue because, despite what many people think, you do have to prove your disability to get IB – DLA too. It’s not just handed out for the asking.

    Ron

  4. Fantastic entry, I’ll definitely be linking to this at some point.

    Regarding Rick’s comment: how well do you know these people, and what struggles they have? Do they owe you an accounting of exactly what their money is spent on before they can have a drink in the pub without being judged?

    Not everyone who gets incapacity or income support gets DLA (which would give them free or reduced travel on public transport). Not everyone lives somewhere where these IS any meaningful public transport! And being able to go to the pub is hardly proof that, for example, you can do your grocery shopping without assistance, or any of all number of other regular tasks.

    Getting by on incapacity is difficult, not least because one is, you know, disabled in some way. It’s also difficult because of people’s attitudes, particularly when they get their attitudes from the Daily Mail, Daily Express, and ignorant politicians.

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