Incapacity Benefit.

Thanks to the BBC News this morning I have spent the day in such a strop I had to have a lie down on returning home from work. According to the new people are claiming Incapacity Benefit because they are too fat, tired or spotty to work. I must say this comes as news to me, whilst I have no doubt absurd and frivolous claims are made on these grounds I'm at a loss as to how they'd be successful.

To be eligible for Incapacity Benefit one has to attain a certain number of points. Fifteen points for physical ill health and ten for mental ill health. Not that one would have realised that from watching the BBC news who were happy to give the completely false impression that one can just write 'I'm too spotty to work' on a form and receive benefit. It is also worth pointing out that one is expected to list all ones illnesses on the form so that acne etc could be mentioned and recorded but might not be the cause of incapacity. This information is widely available so one wonders why the BBC couldn't be bothered to check it out -unbiased my arse.

To start a claim one requires their GP to sign them off work. If GP's are signing people off for conditions like acne then shouldn't action be taken against them? Once signed off a form needs to be completed then a medical with a DWP doctor. Again if DWP doctors are agreeing that people with acne are too sick to work then why is the DWP continuing to employ them? What action is being taken against them for this obviously sloppy and slightly suspicious work?

I am particularly surprised because of my recent caseload I've had people receiving chemotherapy declared fit for work, people die of terminal cancer after being declared fit for work and in one case that just about sums up the total waste generated by the current system a woman who was declared unfit for work by two DWP doctors examining her for different benefits and fit for work by the one examining her for Incapacity Benefit. In addition her employers doctor, her own doctor and an independent consultant who examined her as part of ongoing legal action against her employer all declared her unfit for work as indeed did the appeal tribunal. One might also wish to the consider the cost to the public of genuine claimants being forced to appeal bad decisions. Whilst my wage does not come from the public purse most welfare rights representation is publicly funded, add to that the cost of appeal tribunal admin staff and the doctors and lawyers who sit on the tribunal and it adds up to a tidy sum.

Obviously the system is open to abuse, which would be greatly reduced by giving claimants a proper medical rather than being barely glanced at by a DWP doctor who hides behind a computer screen making up answers to the questions they've asked you. However make no mistake the determined workshy fraudster will not be put off by any of this -if life on the sick gets too rough they'll simply move on to another benefit.

I'm not disputing that the system needs reformed, there is ample evidence to suggest that it does. I'd start by removing every inbuilt disincentive to work from not only Incapacity Benefit but unemployment benefit and the rest. I would also question what on earth is going on in schools that leads so many young people to think that the best they can hope for after leaving is a life on benefits. I'm also not convinced that people with addictions should be treated the same as those who are unfit through bad luck. I do not say that to be judgemental, I have enormous sympathy for those caught up in the cycle of addiction but I'm not convinced the present set up is doing them any favours. Oh and should any DWP doctors be reading please note that just because someone turns up drunk for a medical doesn't mean that they are an alcoholic and unless they have other problems associated with alcoholism they're probably at it. Alcoholism is the new back pain scam. Travel by bus more -the lads are very open about it.

In truth the system is a lottery, not helped by being poorly organised and badly structured. Sadly the people who pay the price tend to be the genuine claimants. The cheats know the system far too well to lose a single penny.



BenefitScroungingScum said...

Well said and thank you! I'm just horrified, appalled and seriously frightened about the direction this is all going in, I really don't know what will happen to those like me. Quite apart from anything else as I'm sure you know the whole new deal for disabled people system is basically a sham profit making exercise for job brokers, and there just aren't jobs for those with true disabilities and chronic conditions, the govt having completely failed to realise that most people have complex conditions that won't fit in their nice boxes.
I'm planning a post on this myself once I feel well enough, I'd like to link to this one if that's ok? Bendy Girl

Billy said...

Interesting post. Not much else to say really.

Clairwil said...

I'm not surprised you're worried. The best thing I can suggest is to start making friends with every medically qualified person you can lay hands on and keep a record of anything that might support your claim. You're spot on about the job broker scam. I wouldn't mind but the most of the training courses they make available are poor quality and useless. I also don't see much help being given to small businesses to help them employ all
these disabled people looking for work. I look forward to your article and feel free to link to any of the above.

Cheers old bean.

flyingrodent said...

Excellent post Clairwil - that's exactly how I feel when the newspapers run fact-free, desk pounding guff about human rights or justice issues. It's not a lack of bias, it's laziness - why bother researching an article when you can just print Annabel Goldie's opinion verbatim?

Personally, I'm always waiting for the CBI to bemoan the amount of money british employers lose to sleep. Surely we could be working from home - it's not as if there's a right to sleep, after all.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Clairwil, thank you, I've posted on the subject and linked to you. You're right, the 'courses' offered by New Deal or job brokers are a total joke and the concept that disabled people might already be educated clearly never entered the heads of those putting together these typically badly thought through schemes. Already having a degree has caused me more harm than I could ever have imagined. If burning the damn certificate would mean no-one knowing I ever did it and so being able to start again (with the funding) I'd gladly do so, but of course it's far better to pay out a lifetime of benefits than for the retraining that might actually get someone into suitable work.
Small busnissess can't bear the cost, and I'm not sure many medium sized ones can either, and realistically the private sector won't take on most disabled people so it's all going back on the public sector anyway, it's a joke.

Thank you for your advice, it's much appreciated, especially as I got an IB50 this morning. Not happy! BG x

Deacon Barry said...

It is very difficult to hang on to a job if one has a mental illness. Sure one is physically able to sit at a computer/shift boxes/serve burgers, but when the next attack comes along, the job is kaput.

Clairwil said...

Spot on. Employers don't do mental illness. As I know to my cost.

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