I would like to start by saying that 6 months ago I couldn’t have written this piece because I had no idea how bad the system had become.
Let me explain myself, I am talking about the abomination that is the benefit system for those who are sick or disabled.
I find myself in a situation where I need the help of the government to help me hopefully get my life back, I suffer from a congenital condition that affects my musculo-skeletal system and for most of my life has been under control and I have managed to live what people would consider a ‘normal life’. Just over 6 months ago I found myself in a situation where I had to give up work due to pain and for the first time ever have to rely on the benefits system and these are my findings so far.
When you find yourself in the situation where you are unable to work due to illness or unforeseen circumstance you have no choice but to apply for ESA and in the most serious case PIP. (Previously DLA) The system of claiming these benefits is fundamentally flawed and is causing both abject poverty and also in many cases making the illness or disability more unbearable due to the onset of depression.
At the time of writing a claim for PIP is taking a minimum of 6 months and an assessment for ESA is taking a similar amount of time, the effects of this mean that the average claimant is living on just over £75.00 per week, this is less than those on JSA and is made even harder when you consider that if you have a mortgage you are not entitled to housing benefit so out of this pitiful amount of money that has to be covered too.
The reason that things are taking so long is because the government gave the contract for assessments of ESA and PIP to a company called ATOS healthcare. This company has had a long history with these sorts of assessments but were not prepared for the changeover from DLA to PIP and this has meant that a large backlog has occurred and in some cases people have had to wait a year to be assessed.
The biggest problem with these waiting times is that people end up having their lives on hold until they get to the top of the list. With ESA you are assessed to determine whether you are put into a work focused group or a care based group, In both of these groups you are given the support to try and learn new skills that may enable you to become independent from the benefit system once again.
I suppose this article is aimed at being a war cry to both the local politicians and also the DWP that we are still here and need neigh demand the help that we require.