29/05/11 Benefit fraud – what a laugh

Today the department of work and pensions showed their sparkling wit by publishing some of their ‘funnier’ claims for incapacity benefit.

On radio 5 live they recounted the man on said benefit, when challenged carrying ladders, said they weren’t for work – it was part of his physiotherapy.

My sides are splitting just as I remember.

Just in case we forgot what funny was, the good old BBC played a few seconds of jasper carrot’s routine from the early ‘80’s where he laughed at truly ridiculous car insurance claims…

“I’d been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel…” and the like.

It took me back to their equally hilarious press release about how 80 thousand folk on incapacity benefit are either alcoholic, drug addicts or too obese to work.

Just about every paper ran with that as a headline – even the good old BBC thought it was too good to miss.
In reality these figures boiled down to roughly 43 thousand people with alcohol problems, 37 thousand folk addicted to drugs and er, the remaining 1800 too obese to work.

Imagine the public outrage – fat druggies on benefits shocker…

These are folk with problems – problems that they really need rammed down their throats just in case they’d forgotten.

This is not my major gripe – alongside this startling statistic, they quietly published 360 thousand people are off work due to depression.

What on earth is going on with a country where such a huge group of folk aren’t just depressed – but are unable to work because of it.

I’m guessing the fact that we have one of the most unequal societies in the western world combined with astonishingly limited social mobility doesn’t help.

And yet none of the media picked up on that particular side of the story.

I couldn’t help but remember some of my own mirth filled experiences.

I remember going to a disability tribunal regarding my own claim for disability living allowance – crying uncontrollably in front of a gp, a lawyer, a recorder and a disability specialist (oh really?) while I described my suicidal and self harming thoughts and actions.

“can you cook a meal for yourself?”

What did that question have to do with my mental health?

“sure I can cook if it doesn’t involve using sharp knives…”

I eventually got the benefit to which I was entitled thanks to a social worker who helped me to go through the whole process again.

How I laugh when I remember countless individuals who came to my social work department saying they hadn’t received any benefits for 6 weeks through no fault of their own.
The starving young woman, dizzy due to lack of calories who’d even been turned down by the social work department.

Just to put you in the picture – if a social worker assesses that someone’s needs would be best met by money (in Scotland) that person is entitled to a section 12 (of the social work Scotland 1968) grant.

Being starving hungry and not having had any money for 6 weeks qualifies.

“we don’t give section 12 grants” game the dull voice of the woman’s social worker on the other end of the line.
“I suggest you look at the legislation – if she doesn’t report you, I will…”

She got her money. What the dwp were doing is anyone’s guess.

I can’t help but snigger as I remember men and women, at the end of their tether, coming to me as a duty social worker, because they had no money and were too ashamed, embarrassed, unknowledgeable to claim benefits.

To go over old ground – what about the lady from the stars who would have filled over 20 pages of benefit forms for her extra £40 per week – but only if she was caring for the person for more than 40 hours a week – saving the state roughly £440 per week.

Tax evasion, tax avoidance – where are the rib tickling stories there?

Enough.

Walk a mile

Chris

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