Friday, 29 July 2011

The benefits debated calmly!

And so the great benefits/disability , lost for a word to put in here, war seems too strong but issue is too wishy washy to describe the depth of feeling there is surrounding this debate. But however you would describe it still it rolls on.
Initially I was panicked by it all, read everything I could lay my hands on, talked to everyone I could about it and made it my business to follow developments closely.
I couldn't keep up this level of stress for too long without suffering even more than I normally do so I tried to take a step back and find a calmer approach.

You see it seems obvious to me that there are people on both sides of this debate that are purely out for sensationalism, certainly several of the ( and I hesitate to call them this) newspapers are clearly after a reaction with the sort of headlines they scream on a regular basis, a few of them even raised a comment out of me until I realised I was doing just what they and the 'trolls' that wait for a bandwagon to jump on wanted, I was reacting.
But also on twitter and other social networks some on the other side were putting out similar frightening and often unproven information which was causing a similar reaction in me, again I was reacting.
So I wised up, I checked the information I was getting before I reacted at all, I chose carefully what I would ingest and what I wouldn't even bother looking at, that's not to say I didn't still react, mostly I believe appropriately but still occasionally immediately as in a previous blog when I read something that appalled me so much I had to write down what I felt straight away.

I consider myself quite a calm and balanced person, dare say there are some that would disagree!
So I have tried to come at this calmly and with a balanced view, difficult when it is such an emotive subject and twice as difficult when I myself am being affected by it.

So this week in my calm and educated way this is what has happened regarding the benefits/disability issues.
There has been a significant turn in this saga this week, it seems MPs and even some of the papers have woken up to the fact that all is not rosy in the ATOS garden, assessments have gone horribly wrong for a significant number of claimants costing large amounts in appeals and raising the question of how qualified this French company are to be carrying out these tests. A committee has also raised concerns regarding the language used in certain newspapers in describing sick/disabled people and the hatred and harm to them this is inciting.
This was heartwarming to those of us that had watched the destruction being caused and I became quite hopeful that things may be turning around at last.

What didn't quite make sense to me was after the months of the RTing, shouting and abuse on the social sites every time one of the sensational headlines declared we were all scroungers etc how very quiet those people were now.
The government released statistics that once again screamed 'cheats' and were quickly taken to task by a professor who had helped design the ATOS medical and a well respected newspaper showing how the figures they had released had Been misrepresented. Not so much as a RT.... Hey guys this was in our favour!
I can only assume the loud, indignant people who had been so vocal about 'cheats' were now having a pang of conscience, or sitting with their heads in their hands wondering how they could have been so mean! No?
Or is it that true facts are no good as ammunition with which to bully and frighten vulnerable people? True facts are nowhere near as scary are they? Hhhmmm
I asked this question on twitter and it was suggested I was too embroiled in the whole thing, maybe I am but I am trying really hard to stay calm and reasoned...honestly.

I also commented on another persons blog this week, I often do to support or let someone know I enjoyed reading their blog but this for me was negative and that is unusual for me. A well educated man was suggesting that benefits should be taxed by 5% so we could all 'be in this together' apart from the obvious flaws in this it again begs the question of why should we be punished any more than we already are by being on the meagre amount that is benefits and if like me you have worked and paid in for a good many years you have already paid your taxes haven't you?
The author stated that he hadn't meant sick/disabled people and had purposely not mentioned them in his blog.....people on benefits should be taxed? That's me Sir, disabled and ON benefits.

Finally I had a very interesting meeting with my local MP, a kind and caring man whom I have met before. The discussion was calm and very reasoned with both of us putting our points succinctly, we debated, we listened and we shared our views.
He has gone away to get me some answers and will contact me again when he has them. I felt the meeting had been a positive experience for me and was grateful for the opportunity to discuss my fears.

And so my friends and readers this calm and reasoned Penny is currently battling to stay stress free and deal with things in a sensible considered way and it is working......until???

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Penny.
I think I understand where you're coming from. I'm still composing my blogpost regarding the latest stuff. I remain determined to help get the word out, but must admit it gets to me and I have to step back from it occasionally too. It's like a roller coaster of being fired up and determined, followed by being overwhelmed at the enormity of the prejudice we have to overcome.

Your post, as always, is an enjoyable read, and I think you have expressed yourself well. I hope that you get a positive response from your local MP. Don't forget, you aren't alone.

deb aka murphthesurf said...

Since I am in the US, I can not directly comment on what is going on in your country right now. But I will say that politics in all countries becomes extreme with the media throwing in their two cents and unfortunately the facts are often left as casualties scattered among the falsities. My heart goes out to you as I can only imagine the strife of it all.

Dougie Brimson said...

Penny, as the author of the blog which caused you such angst, I have to take you to task.

In my blog (which was part 2 of what will be 3) I suggested that Unemployment benefit be cut by 5% as a way of showing the employed of this country a degree of fairness as this country tries to drag itself out of recession. After all, the tax payer is being asked to cut back on everything be it wages and/or pensions whilst having to work even harder for what they/we do earn. So is it really unreasonable to ask that those who do nothing yet take unemployment benefit also take I hit? I don't think it is nor do many who have read my blog.

And I only mentioned unemployment benefit because that is my beef. Of course there are people who exploit the system and steal from us all by falsely claiming disability benefits but I would never suggest cutting those for the simple reason that to do so would harm those who the welfare system was actually set up for. Instead I would argue that even more resources be put into weeding out illegal claims and punishing those who make them but that is a different debate.

Furthermore, at no point did I suggest that benefits should be taxed as indeed, some already are.

However, for the record, my partner is disabled and I am also in receipt of a disability pension from my days in the military (in fact I was subjected to one of the dreaded ATOS assessments only a month or so ago) so I know only too well the issues relating to disability and benefits which is why I get so angry when I see people falsely claiming.

As, I would suggest, should you and everyone else.

Penny said...

I would ask respectfully Dougie if you would kindly leave a link to your blog so my readers can decide dor themselves if I am misquoting or over reacting. If that is the case then I apologies unreservedly but as I say this subject is especially emotive to those in the centre of it.

Penny said...

For the sake of balance and fairness here is the aforementioned blog Dougie is talking about, you decide for yourselves.

Ron Graves said...

I think, Penny, that the idea of taxing benefits - any benefits - is cretinous.

The money comes from the exchequer, the "tax" returns to the exchequer, so the tax is a defacto cut, and benefits are bloody low enough to begin with.

And yes, I have read the original post - it's bigotry, pure and simple - you onle have to look at the "An unemployed man" photo to realise that. Simple-minded too.

Hopefully, Dougie, you too will be unemployed soon, and find out just how much fun you can have on £67.50 a week. No doubt, too, you'll be moved to return 5% or hell, 15%, to practise what you preach.

Morag said...

Hello Penny, Our local councillor had a piece in the local rag saying 500k fraud by Blue Badge holders. Mmmmm semmed rather a lot to me. I went back to the Council site read the reports submitted and found only one instance of fraud was investigated and prosceuted. The report commissioned from an os company said it may be an area to look at in the future (based no doubt on the one instance). I've ordered 'Scapegoat' from the library and I'm doing my own research.

Dougie Brimson said...

Ron, you have clearly not read anything properly because no where have I mentioned taxing benefits (any benefits) at all.

As for being unemployed, I have been, plenty of times thanks so your childish -cretinous even- comments hold no sway with me. But what I did was to get off my backside and start grafting for myself and you know what, it works. And now I pay taxes a part of which goes to support the unemployed so I think I have every right to comment on that.

However, lets take this on a bit further. Most people in this country know someone who is fiddling the welfare state in some way and that's in effect, stealing. Not just from the taxpayer, but from those who actually need and deserve the support of the welfare state. So with that in mind and assuming you do, have you ever shopped anyone? Or would you?

And if not, why not?

Penny said...

Right, I am closing this blogs comments down now, I never intended it to become a place for the swapping of heated or hateful comments, as I stated in the original blog I am trying to be reasoned in what I react to and although you are all entitled to your own opinions I feel this has gone far enough.