Today the Tories Took £100 A Week from Some of the UK’s Most Disabled People: How Can This Be Right?

30.4.12

Today, largely unnoticed by British citizens fortunate enough to not suffer from any sort of disability, the vile Tory-led government hacked away much of the financial support for disabled people. As austerity cuts go, the cutting of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for disabled people is particularly harsh on some of society’s most vulnerable people, to an extent that makes me feel queasy, and will severely diminish the lives of tens of thousands of disabled people and their partners, reducing them to a level of poverty that ought to be unacceptable in a civilised society.

As Claudia Wood, head of public services and welfare at Demos explained for the Public Finance blog yesterday:

Today marks a watershed in the history of the welfare state. It is the last day that the contributory principle — the concept of social insurance that underpinned [William] Beveridge’s vision [for a welfare state] — remains intact.

This is because tomorrow 70,000 ill and disabled people will lose their Contributory Employment and Support Allowance — a benefit that provides financial support for those who become unemployed due to illness or disability, in return for the national insurance contributions they made during their working life.

160,000 people will eventually lose ESA this year. But they won’t lose this benefit because the amount they contributed in national insurance is inadequate. Oh no. They will lose their ESA because the government has decided that those claiming C-ESA should only be able to claim it for one year — regardless of how much they have contributed.

As part of its savage assault on anyone it can find who is weak and in need of care, the government’s decision to cut the £99 a week paid in ESA after a year, regardless of how much people have contributed before they became ill, strikes me as a type of theft that should be illegal, and that is certainly immoral and unethical.

However, when it comes to looking after disabled people, I also believe that, unless we are genuinely bankrupt as a country (both financially and morally), one of the key measures of our humanity — and, for many of those in power, their religious values — is how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves. And this, of course, means not just those who have made financial contributions before becoming ill, but anyone with a long-term illness that, for example, may have prevented them from working, or those who have never been able to secure a job because of their disabilities despite trying, in a world that, let’s face it, doesn’t involve employers queuing up to give jobs to disabled people if anyone else is in the line.

The government, however, doesn’t agree, and while I’d relish it if people would ask Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling which form of Christianity they believe in (evidently not the form I was brought up with, which obliged providing help to those less fortunate than ourselves), I must also point out that the single fact that makes these changes almost unspeakably cruel is that those who lose their ESA will not get any benefit at all from the government if they have a partner who earns over £7,500 a year, despite the obvious additional costs in looking after a disabled person, all of which is now supposed to be achieved, for some people, on £150 a week gross for two people.

If that doesn’t make you feel a bit sick, then please never cross my path, and, instead, cosy up with your Tory chums and hope you never get ill or poor or disabled, while the rest of us try to work out the extent to which their cruelty is an end in itself or if it is, perhaps, also tempered by the most colossal arrogance and stupidity that ought to preclude them from ever holding political office again.

To explain more, Randeep Ramesh, the Guardian‘s Social affairs editor, wrote an article for the Observer yesterday, in which he profiled Malcolm Parker, who “has not worked since his spine collapsed three years ago.”  As Ramesh also explained, “Having worked for 44 years in the construction trade and diligently paid his national insurance, he had expected to be protected should the worst happen,” but last week an official from the Department of Work and Pensions rang, and, after finding out that is wife worked more than 24 hours a week, sent him a letter telling him that his ESA “would disappear on Monday” (today).

His wife Ruth was “at first perplexed and then increasingly angry.” She explained that, “Although her husband can visit the toilet by himself, with some difficulty, she comes home every lunchtime to feed and check on him,” as Ramesh described it. “Malcolm is in a wheelchair,” she said. “He’s 62. He can’t drive. He can’t concentrate and gets horrendous headaches because of the medication he’s on. He really cannot have a long conversation. To be honest he spends a lot of time on the sofa. I can’t see how he could work.”

Ruth Parker called the £99 a week her husband received from the state a “lifeline,” adding, “It’s not right that Malcolm paid into the system and now he needs help it is not going to pay out.” As noted above, however, Malcolm Parker is just one of “about 70,000 seriously ill, disabled people” who “will lose some or all of their £99-a-week allowance, in perhaps the most swingeing welfare cut proposed by ministers.”

As Ramesh proceeded to explain, “In the past the public were told that by paying into national insurance, they would be guaranteed benefits should they find themselves unable to work due to sickness or disability.” Now, however, receipt of the contributory allowance is limited to a year, marking, as Claudia Wood noted, “the end of a welfare state that rested on William Beveridge’s central idea that social security was ‘first and foremost a plan of insurance — of giving in return for contributions benefits up to subsistence levels'” — what Ed Miliband calls “the ‘something for something’ welfare state.”

In scrapping the ESA, the government has stated that it “aims to test claimants’ ability to work ‘some time in the future’ using the controversial work capability assessments (WCA),” whereby, “If a disabled person is judged to be able to do some ‘work-related activity,’ then the household is means-tested for contributory benefits.” Malcolm Parker has been put into this category, and his wife’s full-time work, as an accounts manager in a solicitors’ firm on a salary of £33,000 a year, means that he will no longer receive benefits.

£33,000 is, of course, a far cry from the £7,500 a year that some couples are now supposed to live on, and the government argues that the savings are necessary, and, by 2015, will mean that “almost 300,000 people will lose out — saving the public purse almost £2bn a year.” However, suddenly hacking £5,000 from people is very harsh and sudden, particularly for those couples whose combined income was previously £12,500 a year, but also for an unknown number of other couples who may have relied on it, and perhaps lack the means to adapt to its loss. Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy called this a “betrayal,” and explained:

About 300,000 people will be losing almost £100 a week even when they continue to be assessed as being too ill too work. Citizens Advice bureaux are already seeing clients worried about being able to pay their mortgage or meet basic living costs. Many of those affected have paid national insurance all their lives — sometimes over three or four decades — believing that this will protect them if they become too ill to work. They are feeling very betrayed and frightened by what seems a very unfair change.

As Randeep Ramesh also noted, “in an age of austerity, stress and anxiety spreads through the population. For those who are depressed, the danger is that cutting benefits can jeopardise recovery and risks pushing people away from work.” Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind — who recently quit the government advisory panel responsible for monitoring the WCA –- warned, “Most people with mental health problems need longer than 12 months of support before they are ready to seek employment. It is very alarming therefore that thousands of people are going to have this support cut off, putting a huge financial strain on them as well as on their families.”

Ramesh also noted that many experts are questioning the limit of a year on the benefit, which, as they point out, “does not recognise how difficult it is for disabled people to find a job, especially in a recession,” but the government is unmoved by the complaints.

Campaigners also point out, as Ramesh put it rather politely, that “many claimants are often assessed incorrectly” — underplaying the widespread criticism of the testing system administered by ATOS, which is designed to find people “fit for work,” and which is groaning under the huge cost of the appeals that are being lost by the government in significant numbers. Campaigners, he noted, also point out that “the government should accept that many sick and disabled people have such severe health problems that there is no current prospect of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities,” and added:

Such was the outcry when it emerged that seriously ill cancer patients will be forced to take medical tests and face “back to work” interviews, despite assurances from ministers that they would not make it harder for the sick to get welfare support, that in the face of strong opposition in the House of Lords the government accepted that some conditions would need “monitoring.”

Neil Coyle, the director of policy at Disability Rights UK, told the Observer that “unfairness will undo the policy.” Explaining how the Tories cannot do their sums, he said that “under the new rules even average earners will pay in more in taxes annually (£5,800) than they will be able to take out in ESA (£5,200) in the event of being disabled,” and added, “When the public see who is affected, then the government will lose support for this policy. Is it fair to give you back less in support than what you paid in a year?”

My answer to that would be that, in a sane, rational world in which empathy still existed, the answer would be a resounding “no,” but I’m not sure that we still live in such a world, sadly.

Further explanation of how the new system will work — or won’t work — was helpfully provided in the comments section by a reader identified as “outinthecold,” which I’m also cross-posting below, as it clearly explains the different categories of the government’s disabled victims, and, to conclude this round-up, I’m also cross-posting an article from yesterday’s Observer by Mark Sparrow, who has been a journalist and photographer for almost 30 years., but suffers from a rare bone disease.

Additional commentary by “outinthecold”

The WCA [Work Capability Assessment] places sick and disabled people into three groups. The politicians and descriptions in the media would like Joe Public to believe that those found “fit for work” actually are fit for work. That is myth one.

The truth is that these people have some degree of functionality that excludes them from getting the benefit. The functionality consists of being able to press a button, being able to make a mark on a piece of paper with a pen, being able to use a standard or non-standard mouse, not losing control of your bowels more than once a week, etc.

Those sort of criteria mean that many people are found “fit for work” despite being not very well or not very functional. This group moves onto JSA [Job Seeker's Allowance], or off benefits altogether. That means they have no money of their own and are entirely dependant on the income of another person. That income is £7500. That’s £7500 to keep two adults, one who has a health issue or disability.

The “Work related Activity Group” is the next group. To satisfy the criteria for this group you have to have significant illness or impairment. For example, you do have to be incontinent more than once a week, you also have to be so impaired that even holding a pen is impossible.

And yet this group is subject to sanctions, unlimited work programs, and is time limited to one year, unless of course your partner is working more than 24 hours and yet still earning less than £7500, in which case the ESA paid will take you to this level. As a note, £7500 for 24 hours work [a week] takes people to below the minimum wage.

So not only are you dependant on another person, but to maintain your NI contributions, and to maintain your “recognition” as sick and disabled, you still have to keep being assessed, an assessment that is exhausting and distressing.

However with the assessment and underlying entitlement to the benefit (except for the ‘vast’ £7500 of earnings) there is the obligation to be examined on a whim, and to be placed on a work program of up to 30 hours a week for as long as the work program provider sees fit (and they get paid a lot of money to see that this happens, even if those 30 hours are spent cleaning the work program providers toilets — see [the] A4e [scandal]).

Myth number two is: People in the work related activity group are alleged to be “moving towards work” according to the Government, and yet this group contains those with progressive debilitating conditions, genetic conditions, incurable conditions and uncontrollable conditions — conditions that get worse over time not better. In fact these conditions don’t get better, ever. (Though we have our fingers crossed that science and technology will eventually find a cure).

There is no group for, and little acceptance of, the significant number of people who are every day moving further away from functionality and further from the world of work due entirely to their bodies failing them in a degenerative way. And yet these people have a year to get better. Or be plunged further into poverty and dependance on a single individual.

The third group is the support group. MP’s would have you believe that the support group consists of the most sick and disabled who will get continual financial support. That is Myth three.

This is untrue — this group is also continually assessed, the maximum award for this group is three years, but any award of more than two years is unlikely, as this involves additional recommendations from additional assessors.

To access the support group you would have to have a terminal illness where death is expected within 6 months, or to be grossly impaired with a level of functioning that most people would consider so negligible as to be non-existent.

An alternative criteria, that is not included in the standard criteria, is that working would endanger your life or the lives of others, but this criteria is usually only invoked at a tribunal, of which the waiting times are currently around a year. That’s the same year that you are expected to get better in.

At present a very sick or disabled person can access ESA and DLA [Disability Living Allowance]. Many are denied ESA, or will be denied it after a year. (Around 35% are denied it, and another 35% will lose it after a year.) DLA (an in work or out of work benefit) is being substantially changed to a Personal Independence Payment, and one quarter of working age people will lose this benefit under the changes, again due to the new criteria.

This means that a considerable number of people will lose every penny that they are currently entitled to, money that they are given to pay for the additional costs of being disabled, such as care costs, additional travel costs, heating costs, equipment costs, and they will also lose the money they are given as recognition that they have worked and paid National Insurance contributions and that they are too sick to work.

Chris Grayling, you’ve made me financially as well as physically disabled
By Mark Sparrow, The Observer, April 29, 2012

Tomorrow marks the end of an era for the disability benefits paid to people like me. From tomorrow payments of contributory employment support allowance (ESA) will be limited to just one year — regardless of whether a claimant is well enough to return to work.

Despite the fact that I’ve endured 14 operations, suffered life-threatening bone infections and am coping with the loss of four centimetres from my left leg, thanks to a rare bacterial infection three years ago that resulted in septicaemia, Chris Grayling, the employment minister, is withdrawing my ESA with immediate effect. Although I suffer extreme pain and my mobility is severely compromised, my benefit will stop. And because my wife earns more than £7,500 a year I will no longer be entitled to a penny.

Grayling’s reforms to ESA will mean that I will be totally dependent on the loved ones who have already given up so much to nurse me through this debilitating illness. Not only has my wife had to help me with things like washing, dressing, administering drugs and physiotherapy, she’s also had to assume much of the financial burden of running the home. Where there were once two salaries, there is now one. What was once a relatively comfortable living has been hacked back to subsistence level.

Throughout my working life as a journalist I had been fortunate in never having to claim a penny in state benefits. But the £90 that I received each week since being unable to work has made an enormous difference towards paying essential bills like heating costs and council tax. Now this must fall entirely on my wife’s shoulders. From now on I will no longer be able to contribute to the household budget and that makes me feel even more of a burden. It’s bad enough that I can’t do my proper share of the housework but the thought that I can no longer contribute financially has hit me hard.

To most people, the sum of money involved may not sound like a great deal but it offers me a shred of dignity and the feeling that society still values me. It offers me hope that I can hold things together until I’m strong enough to return to work. The benefit also helps me afford essential items like toiletries or the specially adapted shoes I need. Perhaps more importantly, ESA helps me put petrol in my 12-year old car so I can make regular trips to see my orthopaedic surgeon in Oxford.

From tomorrow I’ll lose the little bit of independence that I have at the moment. From tomorrow I’ll have to ask my wife for some pocket money to pay for even my most basic needs such as a birthday present for a loved one or something as small as a cup of coffee. It’s hard to describe how utterly impotent and dependent that makes me feel. From tomorrow I will be financially as well as physically disabled.

According to Grayling and his boss, Iain Duncan Smith, the main reason for reforming disability benefits like ESA was to stop disabled people being forgotten, isolated and unable to work. Grayling promised that those judged able to return to work one day would be given every assistance to get back into employment.

Unfortunately I’m no longer sure if Grayling’s promise to help sick and disabled people get back into work is worth anything. Once I’m no longer a financial drain on his budget, I’m concerned I’ll be forgotten and cast adrift without any further support. If that does turn out to be the case, then it will nail the lie that the reforms were all about helping disabled people return to work. It will be incontrovertible evidence that time-limiting contributory ESA was only ever about saving the Treasury money.

When I wake up tomorrow morning I shall still be unwell, I shall still be unemployed, and I shall still be struggling with the myriad problems that chronic ill health brings.

Tomorrow I will simply become a small piece of collateral damage in the government’s drive to reform welfare spending.

*****

Tomorrow, there will be May Day protests in London, with supporters of the Occupy movement and others awake enough to challenge this vilest of governments calling for an end to the kind of unforgivable policies outlined above. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too. If not, I hope you write to your MP, or write a letter to a newspaper, or complain about this barbaric government to anyone who thinks that what they’re doing is justifiable. As I said earlier on in this piece I don’t recognise the necessity for the disabled to be treated in this manner in the UK, which is not, after all, a failed state with no resources, and I cannot for the life of me accept how people who claim to be Christians — as, I’m sure, most Tory MPs do — can so callously disregard the lessons taught by Jesus Christ, who would not have sanctioned any policy that involved deliberately inflicting misery on the most vulnerable members of society.

Note: The photos above are by Harpy Marx. Please visit her website. Also, please read this powerful article about life after the ESA by The Creative Crip, which I just found out about on Twitter via the ever reliable TenPercent.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

32 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Tamara Beinlich wrote:

    gots to pay for those tax cuts for the wealthy ya know.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Mezentian Gate wrote:

    How is taking money from anyone using extortion & threats right?
    Government: whether it is wars or extortion, there is nothing morally competent about it and the individuals who join its mercenaries

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Gosling wrote:

    The fascists are saying “there is no alternative”.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Joyce McCloy wrote:

    oh no I hope the UK isn’t turning into the US. The bankers and corporations seem to own our govt, hope they don’t own yours.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I just posted this, Andy, although I could not share it. This is one of your most eloquent and passionate articles. I read about this case in the Guardian, I think this morning, and posted it on my page and a Swedish page of one group I belong to. Very similar acts have occured here, and several victims are friends of mine, not just facebook friends. Tomorrow I hope to post this article on one of our FB pages.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Ahmad Belal wrote:

    Gimme a gun I could possibly rob a bank. Gimme a bank then see how I can rob everyone..
    The above could be applied to such people and Organizations.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tamara, Mezentian, Tony, Joyce, George and Ahmad, and everyone who’s liking and sharing it. George, you saying this is one of my most eloquent and passionate articles means a lot; Tony, we all know their lies are starting to wear thin; and Joyce, I had no idea quite how much the US model still offered to the greedy elsewhere (like in the UK) until the Tories started showing that New Labour had only scratched the surface. But they must be overthrown, or there’ll be no Britain left. It all feels very dystopian right now; in fact “Dystopia” would be my one word for it, although this brutalized, savage, uncaring world of self-obsession apparently isn’t visible to those who only see the surface.

  8. Paul Rankin says...

    The Tories are evil,callous and malevolent beyond belief. In the 2 years since they formed this appalling pseudo-coalition Govt- pseudo in that the Lib Dems have no say in anything-the Tories have deliberately targetted the vulnerable in society in a manner which is utterly sickening & repellant. They are absolute scum & easily the nastiest,cruellest, most damaging & avaricious Government in British history. The sooner they are forced out,the better. My heart goes out to all those who are having their lives ripped apart by the dreadful policies of millionaire ministers who only care about the economy,and see most of the UK as lowlife to be pushed around and exploited at will. What a disgrace it is. Thought this was the 21st Century,not the 19th……

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Paul. Yes, that’s exactly how I feel. Thanks for echoing my disdain. I just don’t understand why we can’t get a million of us out on the streets who feel the same way …

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    Utter Revulsion. To the Tories, disabled people are a nuisance, and Untermenchen. They can starve, as far as the Tories are concerned. They couldn’t care less. But the utter human insensitivity is chilling. Next, of course, they will take away bus passes for old people, winter fuel allowances, etc……there will be no end to it.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    Will Milliband, in the event of a new labour Government, restore these vile cuts?…We need to demand he undedrtakes that he will.Nu-Labor are almost as bad.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger ‎wrote:

    Graham, in Amsterdam, all libraries have been deregulated. If one is over 65 and does not satisfy certain conditions, then one must pay a punishment top-up fee every year, for having the nerve to have lived so long. Top-Up, because no library in the Netherlands was ever free.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    OMG. Free libraries are the foundation of a free people. In some baltic states, the internet is free, and a constitutional right

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    This should be a policy for Scotland.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I know, but I fear that similar measurs will be taken throughout the EU, to marginalise the ill, disabled, and the elderly; all those Untermenschen, e.g. me.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    and me. Now slowly recovering, thanks to alternative medicine.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    but when i was housebound, no disability allowance, of course.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I hope you will continue to recover, Graham. I most likely will, but nothing is certain.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham and George, thank you both for your comments, and for that excellent discussion.
    There is indeed a class of politician stalking the earth now who has decided that some people are no longer worth caring for, that Beveridge’s vision of a state that cares for all must be done away with, and who disguise their intent – disgustingly – with talk of “empowering” those who are at present “dependent.”
    Labour needs to come up with some coherent ideas. It may be that, as with family tax credit, which involved the government paying £10 a week to couples earning up to £75,000 a year, Labour’s generosity (which, ironically, the voters eventually forgot about, even while benefiting from it) was too generous. The limit for family tax credit, for example, has now been slashed to those with a joint income of less than £36,000, which I understand.
    However, what I don’t understand is how the savagery of many of the government’s other cuts can be defended for a second. Almost as soon as they came into power, for example, all financial support for various organisations – organisations working with vulnerable young people was one sector I know about – was slashed overnight, so that large numbers of people were thrown on the scrapheap, after years of work, because there was no time to plan alternative sources of funding.
    With the disabled, beyond the permanent disgrace of the ATOS testing programme, and the institutional drive to find all disabled people “fit for work,” there is also this problem of not withdrawing support gradually, so that people, already economically stretched in many cases, can find ways to adapt financially. However, the biggest shock to me is this notion that, if you’re disabled, and have a partner who earns over £7500 a year, you won’t get any support from the government.
    That’s so cruel that it makes my blood boil.
    How much the threshold should be is something Labour needs to decide, and should be central to their policies, along with scrapping the current review system administered by ATOS, but doubling that amount has to be the barest minimum that is tolerable for disabled people not to be thrown into potentially dangerous poverty.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Kristin Higgins wrote:

    well as long as it is done fairly ,because we all know people are fleecing the system ,i know of one such person who has built a home in jamaica from this very money

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    My pleasure, Andy and Graham

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Graham Ennis wrote:

    thanks Andy.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, George and Graham. And Kristin, I agree that there are those who cheat the system, but there will always be people who do so, and fraud doesn’t really have anything to do with the disability reviews and their remit, which is to throw all disabled people off welfare, full stop.
    I also think we should recall that the cheats are at every level of society, and that some of them have got much more than a house in Jamaica out of it. I know of some people, who no one can arrest, allegedly, who have stolen billions of pounds and dollars from their fellow citizens, and have got away with it. You’ll find them in the City, or in Wall Street, or offshore somewhere.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Hamza Afridi wrote:

    bloody hell.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Very well put, Hamza. It’s bad, isn’t it?

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Andy, it became unbearable to read what this government is doing to all of us, ordinary people, and especially how they treat the most vulnarable ones in this society. I feel so depressed, thinking it’s not because of them, selfish and arrogant Etonians; it’s about majority of us, feeling no sympathy at all for anyone who is suffering these days because of these brutal cuts. Your article is wonderful. Sharing, thanks so much.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Great, Andy, Conservatives lost in many local elections. I am just waiting for the results from London. Boris might win.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Dejanka, for the heartfelt response to these dreadful developments. I wish Labour would speak out. Anyone with sense could make easy political capital out of cruelty this severe, but they seem to be unable to find their moral compass.
    I too am anxiously awaiting the London result, but really it’s a great shame that it’s so close that Boris might actually win a second term. How can that be possible after so much destruction over the last two years by his party?

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Thanks Andy. I still think this discussion should be kept alive longer. After I shared this article of yours on my wall i learnt more. Did you know that student loan is now considered as *income*? Let’s make it clear for others on this thread. If you are disabled, or in need for financial assistance by the government, you are left without anything by these greedy government, because your partner is a student, with student loan. We all know it is not an *income* at all; it has to be repayed. This story is confirmed by my FB friend, who is a writer, with her partner on this *income*, student loan. Beyond belief!

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s horrible, Dejanka. I hadn’t heard that, but it makes sense, as the disability reforms make clear the extent to which the government doesn’t want to provide any financial support to people if they can get away with making them dependent on their partners, or their families, even if those they’re supposed to depend on don’t even have enough money to support themselves.
    I will of course try and keep these topics alive, in the hope that more people might figure out what is going on.

  31. Karen says says...

    I have not been changed over from incapacity yet till next year. So dont know where they are going to put me. I f I did get in the support group cannot find out anywhere if i would still get the benefit if I moved in with my partner who works more than 16 hrs. cannot get an answer for this?

    If im put in any of the other groups would I lose it.
    The ESA should be saying a benefit for single people only.

    My boyfriend gets £1350 a month wage but as to pay £250 a month csa to his x wife. This is not taken into account when they say how much we have to live off. Plus when phoned csa they said it would be reduced £5 a week. wow
    Also I have two children 13 and 8 who i get child tax credit for been told I will lose all my child tax credit.
    We would not be able to claim working family tax credit because is wage is classed as 26,000 the bracket
    I would lose free school meals and have £65 bus fare to school a month. When my partners paid is moragage and council tax and csa hes left with £500 a month. This would after cover is petrol for work, food for 4 of us, is bills going up coz family in his house clothes etc.
    So for him I dont no where it comes in it pays to work.

    I would have had my ESA taken off me my childrens tax credits leaving me with £33 a week child benefit to keep only.
    So its discrimation against disabled people saying they can never have a partner unless that partners going to support them with their kids. It cannot be done of that amount of money. Just to mention Hes a boyfriend not an husband

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for sharing your story with me, and with my readers here, many of whom share my concerns about the cruelty of this government. I’m very sorry to hear about how much you and your family are being squeezed, and how the government’s sums don’t seem to add up. My conviction is that every policy decision was made only after ministers made sure that anyone with a functioning brain wasn’t actually in the room.
    If you can access Facebook, Karen, check out the page Atos Miracles. It’s put together by disabled people and activists, and there’s loads of information there, and lots of first hand accounts: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ATOS-Miracles/259364897425986

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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