Thursday, 23 June 2011

Benefits and my IPad

This is my first blog using my new IPad, it's proving to be hugely successful, and everything I hoped it would be. It is going to make a huge difference to my way of life and means I can continue to do blogs, talk to my friends on twitter, and keep in touch with the outside world. And yet there is still something that niggles away at me and spoils my full enjoyment, it's an underlying guilt feeling that I have in front of me this brand new IPad and I am no longer working. I thought I had it under control, that I was ready to tell those that judged me where to go! I feel I should be able to shout from the rooftops about how happy I am with it. But no, I can't, and here is why-
My eldest daughter was here Tuesday, she has a 10 month old son and has not yet returned to work although she is going to have to in August when he is a year old. Given the choice she would rather not go back at all while the baby is still so young as she is scared she will miss so much of his growing up in these important first years but financially she has no choice. This in itself is heartbreaking enough and so wrong that we are not giving mothers the choice of staying at home and bringing their children up themselves but forcing them to return to work just to be able to exist financially is a false economy. She had the first 6 months without too many problems as she was officially on maternity leave and her employment paid a percentage of her wages for those months. Then that changed as she passed that 6 month line and she had to ask for benefits to supplement the amount she had coming in so that she could stay off for a further 6 months, she is entitled to maternity leave until the baby is a year old but apparently not paid after the first 6 months? Quite how that it supposed to work is slightly beyond me but she approached benefits and filled out the umpteen forms required. Because she was intending to return and still had her job she is deemed as still employed so the only benefit she was entitled to was working tax credit, ok no problem except the amount they told her she would get weekly turned out to be the monthly amount and isn't even enough to feed the baby let alone her too! So she took the only option open to her and is returning to work sooner than she would have liked, so as you can imagine she wasn't a happy daughter that stood in my kitchen talking to me Tuesday.
Apart from the obvious distress of seeing my daughter so under pressure and unhappy it impacted on me even more when she said in the middle of the whole sorry tale about benefits "and there are those people on benefits with flat screen tvs, driving posh cars and I can't even get enough to be able to live"
It never crossed her mind that she could have been talking about me ! You see she doesn't class me as 'one of them' I'm genuine, I'm really disabled, to her way of thinking she knows me and knows my condition and what's happened to me so she wouldn't question my right to have my motorbility car or the benefits I get. No, she was talking about 'others' the others the government and media have been shoving down everyone's throat for the past year, you know who i mean, those people who ATOS are saying are fit for work! Those people that everyone knows who is claiming their sick and then you see them at the shops one day!
This came from my own, well educated, very caring daughter and my thoughts?
My god if they have got to her, the daughter of a disabled person what chance have we of informing people of the truth surrounding this unjustified attack on us?
And so I am very quietly telling you all just how much I am loving this new iPad of mine.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

Penny, thank you so much for sharing that. I feel for you and know exactly where you're coming from.

The problem is, we are being programmed to feel ashamed. I've been so fired up this past week, doing my blog and expressing outrage at how we're being treated, then yesterday it hit me like a ton of bricks again: the shame. I just sat in tears for ages, I don't WANT to be on benefits, I hate it, hate that so many people think that I'm rolling in money when in reality it's such a struggle. Hate that people judge me all of the time, but most of all I HATE BEING ILL.

My family are just as you describe your daughter. They fully support me emotionally, they know what I've been through and have no doubt that I'm genuine. "It's just the others". I want to scream, but it's no use, they've read the mail, they've heard from a friend of a friend that Joe Bloggs went on 5 holidays this year, has flashy cars, spends his life in the pub, and has all the modern gadgets.

Just keep repeating the official statistics: Just 0.8% of all disability benefits is estimated fraud. They are the government statistics, not some done by a biased group in our favour.

As for your ipad, it's enabling you to continue with something that helps your self esteem, and helps other people's too. Just reading your post has made me feel less alone. I feel emotionally stronger today than I did yesterday but it gets to you, if someone tells you that you're scum often enough then a part of you starts to believe it even when you know you are genuine. I, and many other people in our situations, need people like you to have access to the internet, so your purchase was in no way frivolous, it's a life line. And you know what, even if it had been a frivolous purchase, so what? We need little treats occasionally to give us a lift, whoever we are and whatever situation we're in. It ISN'T a crime. When you are long term ill/disabled every day is a struggle, and it's the rare treats that helps you keep going.

(Sorry, that was a bit long! lol) Keep your chin up Penny, and enjoy your ipad, you deserve it. x

Martin @CurrentMartin said...

A well timed comment Penny as I received a letter from the DWP informing me that I'll be assessed for the new Employment and Support Allowance instead of Incapacity Benefit which is being phased out.

Luckily the Benefits and Work website has an online questionnaire which you can fill in and it works out how many points I could be awarded if I meet the criteria.

It seems I'll still be entitled to full benefit but under the Work Capacity section of the benefit where I'll have to attend mandatory "work focused interviews" while those who come under "support" will largely be left alone.

I can't help my mental health disability, yet I'm sceptical of ATOS after they mucked up my Mum's assessment which she won on appeal and the Jobcentre's view on what jobs they think I'll be capable of doing.

Enjoy your iPad!