Stop shaming your out-of-work friends and neighbours.

It only exposes your own ignorance when you do.

The UK is currently experiencing high levels of unemployment as a result of the damage to the economy caused by the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The country slipped into a recession that resulted in countless businesses going under, and many jobs being lost. Due to the austerity measures enacted by the current government, the UK’s economy has barely lifted from this slump and the current level of unemployment is 7.8%, an over 50% increase from its pre-recession level of just over 5%.

austerity

The austerity measures of the current government have not resulted in an increase in work vacancies, and a shaky Eurozone has enabled the incumbent government to attempt write off the double dip recession that occurred under the watchful eye of Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. The stubborn fact remains however that there are simply far more unemployed people than jobs available in this country. Click this link to see how your area fares ratio-wise; and notice that the only area in the country with more job vacancies than unemployed people residing there is the City of London. Fortunately for the predominantly very well-heeled residents of the City of London and immediately surrounding boroughs, the housing benefit cap of £500 maximum a week ensures that those jobs remain available only for those who can either afford the inordinately expensive city rents even while out of work, or are able to afford the time and money to commute from the outer zones. Everyone else in the country, apart from those who can afford to work in the City of London, is having to face the grim reality of there not being anywhere nearly as many jobs available as there are people who are unemployed.

Why, then, are the ranks of those being expected to be out and looking for work rising day by day? Why the media narratives suggesting that the high unemployment figures are somehow in any way related to the attitude of people who are unemployed? If every single unemployed person decided next week to spend every waking hour applying for jobs, handing CVs out, writing to employers, joining agencies etc; jobs for them would not magically appear. More and more disabled people are being ruled “fit-to-work” by the much-maligned Atos-administered Work Capability Assessment. Lone parents with children aged between 5 and 13 are also for the first time being expected to find work. In an environment where there may be (as in my local area) 8 unemployed people for every 1 job vacancy posted, more people are being sent out to compete, even though the latest additions (disabled people and lone parents) have existing disadvantages that mean realistically that they have very low chances of securing employment compared to people who are able-bodied and/or don’t have care commitments.

There is a massive industry built around the existence of unemployed people. If enough people believe that unemployment exists because unemployed people don’t know how to get jobs, or don’t want to get jobs; then businesses can, instead of offering job vacancies at minimum wage or higher, simply get people on the dole to do it for their benefits. They are supplied these unfortunate unemployed people by Jobcentres and Work Programme providers. The Work Programme itself is founded on the idea that the people who are most struggling to find a job (i.e. those who have been unemployed for 9-12 months) would be able to find nonexistent work if they went to more frequent weekly sessions teaching them about how to look for the nonexistent work. It costs the taxpayer, and has no quantifiable results insofar as getting its clients back into work goes; the December 2012 report strongly suggests what everybody who is actually going through this recession as an unemployed person already knows – that you are just as likely (or even more likely) to find a paid job without any specialist taxpayer-funded Work Programme help as you are if you’re on their books and being dragged in for pointless make-work every other day.

So, we have a situation where the dominant ideology regarding unemployed people is that if they “try hard enough”, they’ll certainly find something. People who have not been able to find work in this current environment of there being far more unemployed people than there are work vacancies are being told by everyone – friends, family, media and the government, that they aren’t trying hard enough. Paid work has become the only sort of “work” that a person does that is to be considered of any real value to society in general. Reject this toxic notion.

Society is built not only by people going out to work for money, but also by the people who work by helping others out for free. When we devalue the latter form of work, when we tell people who are not in paid work that they are “useless” and a “drain” on society, they can start to focus and obsess about finding paid work and their care commitments can be viewed as being a useless waste of time, keeping them down and stopping them from ever becoming valuable in the eyes of society. Who the hell wants to live in a society where a person who is good at caring for a vulnerable person is being told they aren’t valuable enough yet, and have to go and look for nonexistent jobs that fit around their care commitment – when there are currently many people without care commitments who are applying for the same jobs? Who wants to live in a society where despite there being scores of able-bodied people having to compete for the scant amount of paid work available, disabled people are being labelled “workshy” and forced out to find jobs? Despite over 50% of the people in this country being net beneficiaries of the tax system, an alarmingly large amount of that same percentage of people believe that because they work and pay tax, they’re paying for other people’s households while they’re out of work, not realising that they haven’t even covered their own household’s cost to the state yet, nevermind the cost of anybody else’s. This group is responsible for a lot of the daily misery suffered by jobseekers, as they are often part of their peer network; and through ignorance of the facts make life very difficult for those around them unable to find paid work.

Society needs to return to a belief in the value of unpaid work and the work of those with caring responsibilities. If you are a person who currently cannot find paid work, but you do unpaid work and/or have caring responsibilities that you do well with, you are just as much of value as the citizen who is fortunate enough in the current economic climate to secure a salary that is taxed and redistributed. The only citizen without value is one who does not help to rally people together, or support them, in these tough times. The liar who knowingly blames innocent people for the failures of himself and his cronies. The person who has plenty to give, but hoards and keeps everything for herself and people she believes to be just like her instead.

This doesn’t sound like any decent person I know, in paid work or not. I want unemployed people who feel as though they are struggling to stay strong. Remember that as long as you contribute daily, it’s only a ballsed-up narrative telling ignorant people otherwise that is bringing you down. This won’t stop those ignorant people, but it will help you to stop believing in them and their value judgments, and to focus on improving your quality of life without the strain of feeling as though you can’t be useful if you’re not currently in paid work.

Respect and solidarity.

Class Warfare: The Guardian’s Robert de Vries weighs in

Robert de Vries has today written in The Guardian on the subject of welfare recipients and the perception that non-welfare recipients apparently have of them.

He is clear to mark himself as a non benefit-recipient by captioning his header: “Research suggests many of us regard people on benefits as part of an ‘outgroup’ who don’t feel the same emotions.” (emphasis added). He thinks that the fact that the people in his peer group think that way is “scary”.

He goes into the usual A-Level sociology waffle about “othering” – and a special, new, specific type of “othering” called ‘infrahumanisation’, which has been invented by a French man – describing it as a process whereby “certain groups are not felt to have the same range of emotional experiences as everybody else. Specifically, while people are fine imagining them feeling basic emotions like anger, pleasure or sadness, they have trouble picturing them experiencing more complex feelings like awe, hope, mournfulness or admiration. The subtle sentiments that make us uniquely human.”

He then describes disabled people and elderly people as being perceived to be “warm and friendly”, as opposed to welfare recipients who are viewed as being “threatening and incompetent”. The word “threatening” is not used in the study (the only study) cited to evidence Robert de Vries’ argument; De Vries has chosen to use that word to describe the fact that respondents to the study’s questionnaire ranked welfare recipients as having low levels of perceived “warmth”. Fig 2 on pg 886 actually shows that respondents ranked the “rich” as having almost the exact same perceived levels of “warmth” as welfare recipients, rendering any class-comparison on that specific issue null and void anyway. De Vries is making up his own definitions here, and in doing so is suggesting that a study somewhere found that a significant majority of people perceived welfare recipients to be “threatening”. Anyone who does not research this claim could possibly be left more prone to thinking: “well hey, other people find welfare recipients to be threating, maybe I do too”; and if you doubt me, then consider the average mindset of The Guardian reader.

gfan

If you further doubt me, then consider the Asche Effect where it is demonstrated that a person is very likely to alter their perception of what they at first believe and know to be true if the people in the group around them insist that the truth is something completely different.

If Robert de Vries is as concerned about the “dehumanising” “othering” that is going on towards welfare recipients as he says he is, he would do well not to infer that they are perceived as being “threatening”, when he links to no such study with the language to support it. The study merely shows that disabled people, the elderly and people on welfare are seen as being less competent than the rest of the public; with elderly people perceived to be the “warmest”, personality-wise, then disabled people, then just the average able-bodied worker. This isn’t particularly news; these perceptions have been there for centuries. They are certainly not evidence of a new and special kind of “dehumanisation” going on.

The most dehumanising instance in De Vries’ article is an actual quote from De Vries himself:

“You can try it for yourself. Imagine the most stereotypical “chav” you can. Imagine their clothes, their surroundings, their posture, their attitude. Now imagine them feeling surprise, anger, or fear. Easy right? Well now imagine them experiencing reverence, melancholy, or fascination. If you found that just as easy, congratulations. But I’d bet for a few of you it was just that bit harder. I’m ashamed to admit it was for me.”

I cannot for the life of me understand the point of this thought exercise. Here, try this one: imagine that you are a reporter who thinks that there is a culture of anti-Semitic “othering” in this country. In order to prove it, you invite everyone who isn’t Jewish to imagine a big, strawman “kike” (and you are sure to use the perjorative, because it’s somehow helpful!), and try to envisage this obviously exaggerated monstrosity behaving in a civillised way. You then admit that you found it very hard to do so, and then send it into a national newspaper as proof that everybody who isn’t a Jewish person probably thinks Jews are less than human.

It would never, ever be printed. Because, ’tis batshit!

As far as I can tell, Robert de Vries is basically saying: “Look, I know they’re rancid, the unemployeds, hell even I find it difficult to imagine a Melancholy Chav (Imagine guys, a Melancholy Chav! Not even Dickens, not even Dickens himself could imagine a…an, um… Fascinated Chav! *laughsnort* *slurp o’ wine* *ahem*”); but we ought to stop bullying them, guys! Or Hitler will happen, or something I dunno, I dunno… hey Editor – pay me.”

De Vries’ OP is really more of a reflection on the sorts of people The Guardian pays to write on working-class issues; than the actual attitudes of general society towards people who are unemployed. “Othering” is nothing new, in fact my friends do it all the time in regard to our collective “social betters”. We don’t think they’re less than human though. We just disagree ideologically with a fair few of ’em, and we take the piss a little bit. And the only proof so far that rich people think that we welfare recipients are actually less-than-human (think about that) is that one rich person wrote that it must be so, in The Guardian. Some of them most certainly do have very erroneous assumptions about what sort of people we are, but let’s face it, if a significant majority of the most influential people thought that poor people were actually animals, we’d have all been killed off. De Vries’ article is nothing but a lazy, speculative, attempt at “rabble-rousing” very poorly disguised as concern.

The Guardian is written by prosperous liberals, for prosperous and aspirational liberals; and the only purpose it serves is to line the Labour Party’s coffers. This current, downright weird attempt at “sympathy” for those receiving benefits by the jolly Tarquins and Jemimas on staff will fade into oblivion when Labour are re-elected, and continue with the existing austerity measures that have been put into place by this continuing joke of a Coalition government. Like a stopped clock, I expect, there will continue to be the occasional good article; this most certainly not being one of them.

If George Osborne’s aides are to be believed, he is a despicable excuse for a human being.

osborne disabled bay

George Osborne’s aides believe that he is a hyper-sensitive, elitist snob; that he despises disabled people and the law of the land, and that he is a filthy hypocrite – the sort of person who would assume the unbelievably self-righteous position of using the tragedy of six dead children to attempt to further the case for his austerity measures on one occasion, and be happy to return to his car – after nipping out for a burger – to find one of his staff members had moved it into a disability bay on another.

If George Osborne’s chauffer believed that George Osborne respected the laws of this land, and cared about the daily struggles of disabled people, he would never have dreamed of parking in that disabled bay. Reportedly, upon the embarrassing discovery that George Osborne was sat in first class with only a standard train ticket from Cheshire to London last year, George Osborne’s aide insisted that he be allowed to stay in first class, but without paying the excess £160 upgrade that anyone else would have had to pay to remain seated where they were. If Mr Osborne’s aide did not believe that his boss was a hyper-sensitive, elitist snob who would not be unhappy to enjoy for free what others would rightfully have to pay for; why on earth did he make such a bizarre request?

If George Osborne’s aides are to be believed, he is a despicable excuse for a human being.

I would put it to everyone that although the chauffeur himself bears the ultimate responsibility for the decisions that led to him breaking the law – and potentially making the day of a disabled person that bit more difficult – that it doesn’t mean we can’t ask questions about why these things happen. What happened in that disabled bay is the perfect example of what happens when MP’s expenses and perks of the job are allowed to get out of hand. If MPs were not allowed the extravagance of taxpayer funded aides, personal assistants and chauffeurs; they wouldn’t embarrass themselves, their party and the constituents who voted for them by having their entourage make ridiculous and very damaging gaffes at routine intervals.

These taxpayer-funded assistants are supposed to “help” MPs by removing their barriers to work; but in fact by making MPs first depend on aides them in order to function at work, then finding themselves being made to look ridiculous by these people they depend on at routine intervals, they essentially make themselves unemployable in any meaningful or productive trade, and are forced into a cycle of lying politician bullshittery in order to scrounge further money from the unwitting masses.

"Thanks, guys!"

“Thanks, guys!”

This commentator proposes that MPs’ personal staff be capped at a maximum of two, in order to break this vicious cycle of avarice-driven dependency on the hard-earned money of the masses. George Osborne may be an isolated case, but as he demonstrates himself when using the disgusting and reprehensible Michael Philpott as an example to draw sweeping statements about millions of people, isolated cases really do count when it’s taxpayer money at stake.

Daily Mail’s Martyr Charbecks was Pub Landlady in 2011

dungoofdAs everybody following the Daily Mail/Charbecks saga will be aware, yesterday Nina Charbecks made contact with the good folks at Black Triangle (who kindly cross-posted my blog entry “More Daily Mail Disability Deception” on 14/01/12), demanding that my stories about her be deleted, and threatening her solicitor and the police on us all. Nothing happened though… I do hope everybody enjoys this one!

Last week The Mail ran a story about Nina Charbecks, claiming that she works four jobs/35 hours per week, and is £400 a month worse off than she would be if she received disability benefit:

“A woman returned to work after ten years on benefits despite it making her £400 poorer a month…

…The mother of two had been receiving around £1,260 a month from income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit and payments related to her rheumatoid arthritis.

‘I went back to work because I don’t want to be a burden,’ she said. ‘There are times when I don’t want to get out of bed because my legs hurt or it’s dark and I want to sleep.

‘But when you’re at work and talking to people it’s all worth it. I was entitled to what I consider to be a lot of money and there was no incentive to look at a job that pays minimum wage.

‘I got into a rut and began thinking I wouldn’t be able to work again. The longer you’re on benefits the harder the cycle is to break. It’s creating a lazy generation.’

Miss Charbecks was diagnosed with arthritis when she was 16 but worked in a string of pubs until being put on disability benefit in 2000.”

Anybody reading the passages above would be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that Ms Nina Charbecks has not worked for ten years. She has though, she was the landlady of a pub called The Wildman in Norwich up until mid-2011.

cb14

cb13

Landlady in 2011, Daily Mail. Bit different from “worked in string of pubs” until 2000; then letting your audience believe that Ms Charbecks hadn’t worked except for volunteering in the meantime, claiming over a grand every month for ten years. Yes, you never technically said it; but people believed it, and thought worse of other disabled people after you created this fake martyr, Nina Charbecks to put others to shame.

It’s like… it’s like Leveson meant nothing to you lot! Ruddy scoundrels.

More Daily Mail Disability Deception

On 12/01/12 The Daily Mail edited the story they published on the 10th January about Nina Charbecks – who they were calling Ms Friday until Sunday, stellar bit of journalism there – the lady with rheumatoid arthritis who, depending on which day you read the Mail’s piece, is allegedly either £300 or £400 a month worse off for going back to work either four or five jobs; after spending ten or twelve years receiving benefit and choosing not to take up paid employment during that time.

Nina Charbecks

Nina Charbecks

The Mail still refers to Ms Charbecks as a “mother of two” despite their earlier version of the same piece detailing that Ms Charbecks’ children are actually grown adults in their twenties. This is to misdirect people into thinking that Ms Charbecks situation is analagous to that of a disabled parent who has legal responsibility for their children. Ms Charbecks’ two daughters are in fact both engaged with children of their own. I know this because when The Mail printed two different names for the same woman, I had to run my own attempt at a fact-check, and stumbled upon Ms Charbecks’ suprisingly public Facebook profile (as of 14/01/12 it has been made private).

Ms Charbecks in in a long term relationship with her live-in partner Charley. A Facebook picture uploaded for public view in December 2012 by Ms Charbecks shows a lady’s left hand with an engagement ring on it. This would indicate that Ms Charbecks is in a stable relationship.

cb10

The Daily Mail has stated that Ms Charbecks had, at points during her ten year history of continuous unemployment, been the recipient of sums of benefit money totalling up to £1,260 per month; and now her personal income is “just over £800 per month”, and she doesn’t claim income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit or any disability-related benefits.

The Mail has not however bothered to explain that when a couple is considered to be living together as common-law husband and wife, they are treated by the DWP as one unit, and calculations for entitlements take into consideration the earnings and assets of both partners. My sister, for example, didn’t qualify for any benefits when she moved in with her partner last year and was unemployed, as his salary is too high and it is assumed by the powers-that-be that he will be subsidising her lifestyle to the extent that basics will be covered. This same reasoning would be applied to Ms Charbecks’ entitlement calculations now that she lives with Charley.

Nobody with a live-in partner receives out-of-work benefits as a single entity. The £1,260 sum paid directly to Ms Charbecks could only have been paid to her when she was claiming as a single person. If Ms Charbecks’ and Charley’s combined income is lower than £18,023 then they are entitled to working tax credits to make up the sum to a living wage. As they appear to be maintaining a home and several well-groomed dogs in the heart of sleepy rural Norfolk, I hardly think that Charley’s on the breadline forcing Ms Charbecks out to do four jobs while she’s in constant pain, and telling her they’re not going to be on the dole because it’s embarrassing.

This, according to Ms Charbeck, is not her home, it's a holiday home. £800 a month stretches far in Norfolk, eh?

This, according to Ms Charbeck, is not her home, it’s a holiday home. £800 a month stretches quite far in Norfolk, eh?

cb12

So we have a couple now earning enough between them that they aren’t entitled to out-of-work benefits; with one partner in the couple complaining that she used to have more money in her pocket when she was single and getting benefits. The real story here seems to be that since moving in with her partner, Ms Charbecks now has to work through constant agony in order to get any money of her own to spend – so if the couple aren’t earning over £18k between themselves a year, we certainly know whose bank account the tax credits are going into.

If Ms Charbecks stops working now, she will not receive that £1,260 for as long as she remains part of a couple. The Mail knows this. They’re banking on their readers being too uninformed to realise that they’re really comparing apples to oranges. As I wrote previously, this misdirection is a lazy effort to prime the readers of the Tory Tabloids into accepting the new Personal Independence Payment to replace Disability Living Allowance this coming April. Perpetual fudger-uppers Atos and TV License enforcers Capita have been tasked by the Tories with cutting the PIP/DLA budget 20% by 2015/16, by putting claimants through the universally maligned “fitness to work” assessments run by “healthcare professionals” (read, not necessarily a doctor/specialist, more likely a physiotherapist or a nurse of some description) whose literal job is to attempt to discredit every GP in the country who has stated that their patient qualifies medically for extra financial assistance in the form of DLA/PIP.

We know this to be true because at the end of veritable streams of bullshit and jobseeker-shaming attributed to Ms Charbecks, this little snippet is crudely bludgeoned in:

“…This put her among the 3.2million Britons who claim the benefit each year, at a cost of £13billion. Around 500,000 claimants are expected to lose the handout in a crackdown.”

They haven’t mentioned which specific benefit they are talking about; but seeing as it’s only DLA that faces a reform and prospective “crackdown” later in the year, I can’t think what else on earth they could be referring to. If we look at the structure of the piece; we can see that they have given us a list of out-of-work benefits Ms Charbecks claimed as a single claimant and given a total sum of the maximum received, talked about how she has less money in her pocket now that she’s part of a couple that doesn’t claim benefits, and then mentioned that one of the set of benefits she received as a single claimant would be facing a crackdown this year.

They would like people to believe that the DLA formed a substantial part of the money Ms Charbecks received whilst unemployed, so that people will feel happier about a “crackdown” occuring. They would like people to think that the DLA contributed to a workshy, “scrounger” mentality. In reality, everybody in the country who is deemed to have the requisite medical symptoms is entitled to DLA. Princes, paupers, Paralympians and even politicians.

DLA/PIP does not contribute to a “workshy” attitude. It is claimed by some of the highest achievers in Britain. And even politicians. Don’t let The Daily Mail get away with these sorts of grotesque and slimy manipulations. Support a fair approach to the discourse about social security.

Disabled people are very fucking valuable!

Pass it on.

UPDATE 14/01/12 – Ms Charbecks has made contact to insist that the story be taken down lest her solicitor get involved. Lulzors. I have changed the article to reflect the reality that the photo taken of a living room is from a holiday home, and is not Ms Charbecks’ usual abode.

UPDATE 15/01/12Nina Charbecks reported to be working as pub landlady in 2011.

Daily Mail Begins Priming Middle England for Next ATOS Onslaught

The Daily Mail published a less-than-responsible piece of journalism yesterday, detailing the apparent struggles of Norfolk resident Nina Friday, a lady with rheumatoid arthritis, who – according to the story published – is working 35 hours a week and is £300 per month worse-off financially than if she were on the disability benefits she was receiving previously.

Nina Friday - disabled, doesn't claim benefits.

Nina Friday – disabled, doesn’t claim benefits.

The Mail is more than happy to describe Ms Friday as being “disabled”; whilst simulataneously showing pictures of her apparently working her poor sore fingers to the bone all the hours God sends her – photographs that would instantly result in Ms Friday being found “fit-for-work” if brought before the WCA team for means-tested disability payments. The Daily Mail has repeatedly insinuated that people found “fit-to-work” by these deeply flawed assessments are not genuinely disabled at all, and are in fact liars and scroungers of the most irksome ilk (though we know that not to be the case).

They also bring Ms Friday’s status as a mother into prominent position, right in the headline – “Disabled Mother” – right after “Putting others to shame” – the clear implication being that Ms Friday puts other disabled mothers to shame somehow. This is just strange, as Ms Friday’s children (at least the ones mentioned) are adults in their early 20s. While it is certainly true that a mother’s work is never done, science would probably agree that generally the bulk of the hard work is when your offspring aren’t legal adults yet. Ms Friday, according to The Mail, was a long-term, out-of-work, benefits claimant for the twelve years between 2000-2012 – for most of the latter part of her daughters’ lives.

One could start to wonder why the Daily Mail is lionising a mother who spent 12 years out of work claiming disability benefit for a degenerative disease, then promptly within a year of ceasing to claim, found herself fit to work 35 hours a week. They would have to look very closely through the mess of half-truths and outright lies scattered about the piece before they found the key to this particular puzzle. It’s in there, unhelpfully uncapitalised, but it’s in there:


Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Ms Friday, according to article, is in a relationship with her partner Charley. One can effectively deduce that Charley’s earnings are too high for the couple to qualify for means-tested disability benefits, as The Mail is referring solely to Ms Friday’s money; whereas couples in receipt of means-tested benefits receive those particular benefits jointly, so the Mail would be inaccurate to refer to it as just Ms Friday’s money if that were the case.

But it isn’t. DLA is not means-tested. Millionaires can claim it. Full time students can claim it. A person can claim it irrespective of their partner’s earnings, as long as they have a medically established disability that qualifies them for the extra support. Ms Friday would have qualified for DLA as a person who suffers from rheumatiod arthritis – a condition that can fluctuate and go into remission, but is ultimately a systemic autoimmune disease with a generally not-so-cheery long-term prognosis. With the information The Mail has provided however, it is entirely reasonable to assume that Charley and Ms Friday are too well-off as a couple to be able to receive any further top-ups, as the kids and all possible related benefits (universal or not) have flown the nest.

The maximum amount that a person receiving DLA alone can receive per month is £569. Ms Friday would not currently be entitled to any more benefit for her disability than that, if the Mail’s description of her current financial circumstances is correct. The Mail claims that Ms Friday gets £300 less than that per month – £269, or, £62.07 for… 35 hours of work per week?

This is where the irresponsibilty and misdirection become especially pernicious. The Mail quotes Ms Friday as saying that she has “been told” that she does about 35 hours of work a week. I believe that she does. I don’t however believe that Ms Friday does 35 hours of paid work per week, because the sums do not add up. They have included a website that she runs herself on the list of her five jobs; with no mention as to the time spent on that personal project, and how much it contributes to the 35 hour total given for her worked hours per week. They have not detailed how much of the remaining work (all good, useful stuff) is paid or unpaid. This is important, not because only paid work counts, but because only paid work counts when figuring out whether it is cheaper to be on benefits than in paid work.

This isn’t about any genuine concern for Ms Friday, who could work and claim DLA if she liked, thus rendering the whole dilemma pointless.

This is a very poorly written piece of propaganda designed to prime the readers of the Tory Tabloids into accepting the new, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as a replacement for DLA – rolling out this April across the country. Now Atos and Capita will be running the same ridiculous, highly contested, maligned-by-medical-professionals-everywhere assessments to see who does and doesn’t qualify – and before a single test has been run by one of their “healthcare professionals”, they’re already aiming for a 20% reduction in the DLA/PIP funding by 2015/16. At least 20% of people found by their GP to have the requisite medical symptoms that should qualify them for DLA/PIP will, the Tories hope, have this extra support cut during this horrible time of economic crisis that disabled people did not cause.

The writer of this piece has used gross misdirection in order to have us believe that DLA payments are higher than the wages a person would earn by working a 35 hour work week, in order to spark the resentment necessary for the public to swallow another round of Atos purges on the sick and disabled. They have tried to make Ms Friday’s story sound as though it is analogous to the stories of those disabled mothers still legally responsible for their children, many of whom are in receipt of means-tested benefits such as ESA, and a substantial proportion of whom do not have resident partners in full time work. Ms Friday’s symptoms clearly do not make active work too much of a problem at this point in time, but it would be dangerous to assume that ‘most cases’ are similar in severity to hers when discussing the overall issue. The Mail has made no nods to such sensitivity, and in doing so has merely shown yet again that its editorial slant lacks social conscience; and that the paper is entirely deserving of the sneers that it so rightfully receives in educated circles.

It’s lies, bollocks and bullshit. Don’t buy it.

UPDATE 13/01/12 – . This piece was taken down by the Mail staff without comment, rewritten and republished on the 12/01/12 The link at the start of my piece has been updated, and will take you to the archived original.

UPDATE 2 13/01/12 – The saga continues…