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New minister for disabled must be made to face the cruelty of ATOS & bedroom tax

VICTIM OF GOVERNMENT POLICYWith a new minister in DWP dealing with disability and a government increasingly riled by persistent reports of the mishandling of work capability assessments by ATOS, now is the time for a renewed push for fundamental changes in these two hated measures.   I continue to receive dozens of letters that tell heart-rending stories about lives that have been wrecked, even destroyed, by the callousness of government regulations as administered by the French IT company, ATOS.   One concerns Richard, a 62 year old blind man who was forced to take early retirement 12 years ago, now left in shock after it was ruled at an assessment that he is now fit to return to work.   He has been registered blind since he was 18 months old, and his wife is also blind.   He had previously received incapacity benefit for the past 10 years, but is now likely to lose that. Even more distressing, I recently received a letter about a woman who took her own life when the stress of having to find extra money to stay in her home in the face of the bedroom tax became too much.   Stephanie, 53, had the auto-immune system deficiency Myasthenia gravis, an illness that weakens muscles.   On constant medication she was told she needed to pay an extra £80 a month or leave her 3-bed home after her two children moved out.   Already cutting back on food – Stephanie had just tinned custard in her cupboards – and too poor to put the heating on in winter, the demands of the bedroom tax drove her to walk out in front of a lorry on the M6 in May this year.   She had wanted to downsize her home in the West Midlands, but the council had nothing smaller available and the demands for extra money followed.

Another person who has written to me had a bad car accident in November 2000 as a result of which he has serious back and neck injuries and has been confined to a wheelchair for 13 years. In his own words:

I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, severe pain in the lower back and constantly have to have pain relief. My left leg is useless as a leg and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware where it is. My right leg is better but standing upright for even a few seconds causes a massive increase in pain, then I collapse and have even passed out.

I do not work as to spend more than 4 hours out of bed reduces me to tears because of the increase in pain. I have had 3 assessments by the occupational therapist in recent years, and all recommend I have my own separate bedroom because of my medical conditions.

Then we had a letter telling us our housing benefit was to be reduced by 14% as my wife and I have a 2-bedroom bungalow and we only need one. We already do not have any heating on in the house except Sue has a Calor Gas heater for which she makes two bottles of gas last her the whole autumn winter and spring. I have not had heating in my bedroom for 5 years. I just pile on extra covers on my bed to keep warm and wear mittens to keep my hands warm when using the computer. So I am now having to take a cut in my food.

I have devised a plan to bring my weekly food bill down to just £12.71. I will have porridge for breakfast every day costing just £0.17 a day, with that I will have a herbal tea costing £0.04, then at lunchtime I will have a frozen meal which costs just £1 a meal. For my evening meal I will have a tin of rice pudding, £0.15 every day and before Sue goes to bed I will have a cup of drinking chocolate costing just £0.07. Add to that a bottle of flavoured water at £0.38 and that will be all my food budget for a week.

2 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Yep all put in place by one Tony Blair, the bed room tax was even backed by labour who would not state they would end it until Miliband believed it was a vote winner.

    Like all benefits we are slowly seeing how the system works and what is needed to get the benefits.

    What ever secret meeting Blair had with ATOS and as you will know we failed to get that information through the FOI I was turned down twice.

    I was informed I was fit to work, but the ATOS medical which I asked to see under a SAR requested stated I was in pain and suffering and the doctor put down 45 points and stated I do not think this patient would work in the short term or the long term.

    I phoned up the DWP who told me they were already reviewing my claim and asked if I would send them any more evidence so I sent a doctors letter which cost me £50 six weeks later I had the letter saying I had won my claim.

    In the mean time the DWP had altered my income tax, had stopped my extra money from British Gas as they said I was not allowed this due to being fit to work, and had informed the council.

    When I asked will you now be contacting them again to state I actually disabled they said that was for you to do.

    The whole process is a mess and wait until PIP’s start for god sake, pain has been removed and breathlessness and walking has been cut from 50mtrs to 20mtrs which is no problem for me I use a wheelchair, but actually guess what if you use a wheelchair it’s like you have legs wheels are like legs.

    I guess Blair must have liked Hitler but was unable ton gas us all.

  2. yassar says:

    I have recently been diagnose MG, want to know possible routes for justice to be done against BRent council no matter how high a mountain may be, what i am trying to ask you guys though is some information on how to take action, to tell you about there treatment towards a family of five,recently diagnosed mg and what they done, there aint enough time but if you could help me with where to start, I want action and while I wait for my operation,brent council havent even given us a shower. 07521801428 is my number or email me some alternatives.
    thank, yassar

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