Welfare reform…

On the subject of welfare reform, Gordon Brown says: ‘Our policy is that everyone who can work must work, so that the dole is only for those looking for work or actively preparing for it. That’s only fair to the people pulling their weight.’

All well and good (assuming the jobs are there, of course), but how long before this metamorphoses, especially in the pages of the Daily Mail, and the Torygraph, into yet another scurrilous campaign waged against the chronically sick and disabled, I wonder? After all, for this government that’s what welfare reform really means – making life even more intolerable for those least able to fight back.

I’ve been unable to work, in any meaningful way, since 1982, yet I never felt as threatened and insecure under the Tories as I have – despite being a Labour supporter my entire adult life – under Labour, a situation that has worsened substantially under the Brown government.

I don’t know what it is about politicians – and the Tories are no better than Labour these days – that makes them automatically assume that every disability benefits claimant is a fraud until proven otherwise. Hell, even a murderer is innocent until proven guilty. Unless they’re also benefits claimants, I suppose, in which case they’re doomed!

This year I’ve been harassed by the Pension Credit people, wanting to know, repeatedly, about my savings and income from sources other than benefits – which is none and none. I can live with being asked to confirm that my situation hasn’t changed, maybe once a year, but they’ve sent me a lengthy form to fill in twice this year – the second one returned with a letter of complaint, as once a year should be enough for anyone – more than once and I begin to take it personally. Needless to say, I didn’t get a reply.

The thing is, these buggers, being part of the Department of Work and Pensions, know my financial situation as well as I do, and there is no need at all to keep asking the same questions over and over again. Doesn’t stop them though.

There needs to be a fundamental change in the benefits system, in that those people with conditions that are incurable are, after the initial assessment, left alone, and not repeatedly reassessed. This would, in addition to making their lives easier, free up quite a lot of manpower, who could then be put to work winkling out the frauds. That benefits fraud exists I have no doubts at all, but I don’t believe it exists at the levels claimed (and several persecution campaigns have born out this view), and adequate manpower would enable a targeted investigation, rather than an all-encompassing sweep that blights the lives of the innocent more than it does the guilty. Juat a thought. . .

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